Nokia, Yahoo Team on Mobile Messaging


Nokia has partnered with Yahoo to offer Yahoo Mail and Messenger on cell phones that operate on Nokia’s Series 40 platform. Some of the mobile messaging startups we’ve written about recently might be in for trouble if the handset makers and carriers start to do more of these messaging deals with the Yahoos, AOLs, Microsofts and Googles of the world. Nokia has also partnered with Yahoo and Google on other mobile offerings before.

Nokia emailed us and said:

Nokia hasn’t regularly taken these steps to accommodate a particular Internet based service, choosing instead to allow third party software providers to make their products available to consumers after the phones are already sold.

While mobile messaging, both email and IM, will show a lot of growth in the consumer market over the next few years, it might be hard for mobile messaging startups to find a good business model. While the carriers and handset companies relax a little and do more of these deals themselves, a lot of startups are going to be cut out. We were just talking to a VC that stopped looking at pitches for mobile messaging because there’s no money to be made.



Correct. Ultimately the carriers dictate to the mobile phone manufacturers what is embedded on the phones they buy for their end customers. If they carrier directs Nokia that Yahoo is not to be embedded on their order, then it will not be there.

This announcement is an extension of their partnership and is nothing new. The two companies have been working together since April 2005. This announcement simply is an agreement to extent to three new phones being: Nokia 5200, 5300, and 6300.

To add further context, you need to consider this is for three handsets in a world of 1500+ makes/models, and add the fact that the mobile operator dictates the software.

Ol' Yeller

Carlos K has it right.

In the US a deal to put an application on a phone means next to nothing except for the sales opportunity for the application provider to convince the carrier to allow the application to remain on the phone.

If the carrier doesn’t want the application on the phone, there will be no application on the phone. End of story.


400 million phones on Series 40 since 2002. Of course, this will go on new phones.


This also coincides with Nokia’s announcement of focusing on the public internet in their Analyst day (11/28, 29). Katie, do we have an idea of how many Series 40 phones are in the market? Does this mean that Yahoo can offer converged mobile solutions(Cingular) working with SBC/AT&T/BellSouth with whom they have DSL/Internet/Mail offerings?

carlos k

Well, this is important in markets where carriers do not control distribution (e.g., China). In markets where distribution is tightly controlled by carriers (US and many W European markets), the deals that matter are the carrier deals.

Laina Raveendran Greene

There is much validity to this point. Yesterday at the TIE SIG on from Mobile Voice to Mobile Web, the point was also raised about how even with partnerships and deals made with and through manufacturers, the ecosystem still needs the telco/service providers involved. Point was noted how a particular Motorola phone which was Wi-Fi enabled with certain apps, the manufacturer had to disable those features on order from the telco before launching it here in the US. Their tariffing models of the services eg.Web access will also determine uptake. So the carriers in the US do play a big role in whether startups will work or not. Interesting indeed that you already noted that VCs are already cooling off investing in mobile messaging (the room last night was full of mob aps software entrepreneurs).

If interested for more info on last night’s meeting, check out my notes at

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