Microsoft Corp. and Sprint Corp. today announced a strategic alliance through which the companies will develop and deliver a range of innovative new service offerings for Sprint’s business and consumer customers. The first consumer offering in this collaboration enables Sprint customers to use Windows Live™ Search for mobile on their wireless phones to conveniently search location-based content from the Internet, such as nearby stores and restaurants, as well as Sprint’s catalog of ring tones, games, screen savers and related services. The service also provides new opportunities for highly relevant and targeted local advertising, which will benefit businesses and consumers alike.
The service is immediately available at no additional cost to Sprint PCS VisionSM and Sprint Power VisionSM subscribers on all currently available data-capable phones, along with many popular older models.*
Windows Live Search for mobile combines Microsoft® Windows Live Local Search features, such as maps and directions, with capabilities allowing the indexing and discovery of highly relevant mobile content. This approach brings simplicity for users by delivering search results grouped in useful categories and in a format appropriate for a user’s specific mobile device.
The location-based offering available today from Sprint and Microsoft requires users to input their location by entering their ZIP code, address, or city and state. Future versions of the service are planned to enable consumers to give permission to automatically locate them and show the nearest businesses that match their search.
The press release is a little coy about the monetary aspects, but Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for Reuters that:
Sprint and Microsoft will share the revenue from advertisements placed alongside Windows Live search results and the two companies will work together to introduce new mobile phones services in the future.
It’s fundamentally another eyeball auction only instead of a content site like MySpace, a PC manufacturer like Dell, or an Internet service provider like Verizon, it’s a mobile phone service provider. Microsoft presumably has a leg up on the competition in that arena with the providers like Sprint who are already using Windows Mobile to power their phones.