Surprising to us, M:Metrics has found that Yahoo! is the most popular mobile content brand. During the quarter ended December 2005, 12.8 million U.S. mobile subscribers accessed Yahoo’s services in an average month — 4 million more than second-place AOL. MSN and Google follow, with about 7 million subscribers accessing their mobile offerings each month during the fourth quarter.
AOL owes its second-place position to its strength in mobile instant messaging (IM). About 89% of its mobile reach is comprised of users of AIM service. Yahoo! users are more likely to access other services, such as news, maps and search in addition to Yahoo IM, which is used by 73% of those who used Yahoo! branded services.
“AOL owes its strong position in the mobile domain to its ability to provide seamless access to AIM buddy lists on handsets through an elegantly designed service and its strong relationships with mobile carriers,” observed Mark Donovan, vice president, products and senior analyst. “Its challenge is to demonstrate that it can use AIM as the foundation to engage users with a broader base of services, much as it is seeking to do on the desktop by opening access to its portal and e-mail services and linking these with AIM.”
ESPN is the most popular source for news among mobile content users, claiming 4.9 million unique users in an average month during the fourth quarter. Interestingly, Yahoo! is on par with CNN as a source of news on the Wireless Web with about 4.5 million subscribers visiting each property on a monthly basis. The Weather Channel is the top source for weather, and Yahoo!, which places second in the Weather category, has twice the audience of Accuweather or Google.
In the burgeoning market segment of mobile search, Google has extended its dominance on the Web to mobile, but only narrowly, with Yahoo! coming in a close second among the 8.9 million people who used mobile search in December.
Conversely, in the area of maps and directories, Yahoo edges Google and Mapquest, but by a slim margin.
“Although these are early days in mobile media, the aggressive efforts in mobile by Yahoo! and AOL are paying off,” said Donovan. “But it is a close race, and as traditional media brands put more muscle into their mobile businesses, we expect that the market will shift.”