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June 16, 2005

Google Zeros In On Mobile Web

Courtesy of TechWeb News

Google Inc. on Thursday started testing a mobile-phone service that searches websites that have been designed to deliver content customized for the small screens of cellular phones.

Google Mobile Web Search targets sites that use XHTML as the technology for delivering content to handsets. XHTML, or extensible HTML, is a web-page markup language that has been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, an international standards body.

The technology combines HTML with the more powerful extensible markup language, or XML, to enable a web server to deliver content tailored to the accessing device.

To use the Google service, people go to the company's homepage via the web browser on their phones, type in their search query and select "Mobile Web (Beta)" as their search option. The National Basketball Association is an example of an organization that offers XHTML-based content for handsets, Google said.

More web content has been tailored for cellular phones in Asia, particular in Japan and South Korea, than in the PC-centric United States and in Europe, Deep Nishar, director of products for Google, said. As a result, web content in the latter countries is generally more difficult to view on a handset.

The growing popularity in the U.S. and Europe of advanced cellular phones, called smart phones, are making it easier to access the web, because the devices include browsers that have better support for HTML, the most commonly used markup language for web pages.

"In general, we believe mobile devices are a very important interface for our user base to access content," Nishar said.

Along with the latest service, Google's other mobile features include the ability to search for images and the general web and for products and services offered locally. Google also offers a text-based messaging service.

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