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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sprint And Microsoft: Also-Rans Team Up

Stocks: (S)(MSFT)(GOOG)(YHOO)(VOD)(VZ)

Sprint and Microsoft have announced a strategic alliance to provide search functions on Sprint cell phones. Microsoft has been trying to get into this business in the US for some time. Microsoft is in a fierce competition with Google and Yahoo! to provide mobile search. The programs will be supported by advertising. Sprint and Microsoft will split the proceeds.

Microsoft rival Google already has deals with Vodafone and Japanese cell carrier KDDI, so the amount of mobile real estate available to search companies is already shrinking.

Some of the cell phone carriers like Alltel are avoiding using Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! altogether. Alltel has done a deal with start-up JumpTap. Verizon has its own systems called VZ Navigation.

The deal with Sprint offers some affirmation the the No. 3 US cell operator still has a very valuable base for offering services from companies like Microsoft. And, Microsoft, which is desparate to flank Google and Yahoo! in mobile search gets a large footprint for its search offerings which are currently a distant third place on the web.

Two companies in third place. What does 3+3 equal?

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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