Vodafone inks mobile deals with Web giants

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Vodafone inks mobile deals with Web giants

Web 2.0 agreements with MySpace, YouTube and eBay.

Vodafone has secured deals with three of the web's highest-profile brands to enable Vodafone Live customers to access mobile versions of MySpace, YouTube and BEay.

Applications can be downloaded to existing handsets, and future phones will have the software embedded.

The MySpace deal represents the company's first move into the European mobile sector. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

Colin Digiaro, senior vice president of sales at MySpace, said in a statement: "Millions of people use MySpace as their primary means of communicating with family and friends, so it is vital that we make this available on the move."

The EBay deal is also exclusive to Vodafone in most of Europe, although not in the UK where the internet auction platform is already available to customers of O2's i-Mode service.

Vodafone Live customers in the UK, and later in key European markets, will also be able to access a version of YouTube.

Google-owned YouTube will provide a daily selection of new videos, and customers can search for content, forward links to contacts and upload video from their mobile phones.

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen said: "People want to view and share favourite YouTube videos wherever and whenever they want. Partnering with Vodafone will accelerate those efforts."

Frank Rovekamp, chief marketing officer at Vodafone, said this week that the three partnerships are vital to the company's consumer appeal.

"Through attracting the most popular Internet brands onto Vodafone mobile devices, we will continue to ensure that our customers can access and share the best entertainment anytime and anywhere," he said.

Vodafone already has agreements with MSN's Windows Live Messenger as well as with Google.

None of the three new services is yet available, and industry analysts Ovum warned that Vodafone will need to come through on its promises sooner rather than later.

"Although Vodafone is moving ahead with its internet brand partnerships, we do not always get the impression that it is very cheerful about it," said Ovum in a statement.

"The Google partnership was announced a year ago, but no subscriber service has reached the market yet. We will be pleasantly surprised if the [MySpace and EBay services] happen very quickly."

YouTube was acquired by Google last October for US$1.65bn. MySpace is owned by News Corporation, which bought the site for US$580m in July 2005.

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