It's summer, the season of leisure, and most people aren't in a rush to do much of anything. However, Time Warner's
AOL will allow users of mobile phones, smartphones, and PDAs to access AOL Search, Pinpoint Shopping Search, and AOL Yellow Pages. The company says it has "'right-sized the Internet' for mobile screens, giving users the power to search or shop for anything they need."
The move is made possible through a partnership with Israeli firm InfoGin, which adapts Web pages to mobile screens. The service, currently in beta, will be free, although consumers will likely face carrier charges.
People who use the Internet on their mobile devices will probably find this sort of application helpful if they want to compare prices while out shopping, or are lost and in need of directions or a phone number. On the other hand, similar services are already available from Internet rivals Google
This is yet another departure from AOL's old "walled-in" community approach. It's no secret that AOL has rapidly shifted away from its closed, dial-up network to a more open-armed approach aimed at luring Web surfers (and Internet advertising dollars).
Despite the timeliness of the move, given all the talk of search wars these days, I wonder whether AOL has the power to meaningfully compete in this field with the likes of Yahoo! and Google. Perhaps the new service will incorporate AOL's trademark user-friendliness for newcomers to the world of mobile devices. Time will tell.
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