Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) success over the next decade depends, to some extent, on moving its search products from PCs to the new generation of mobile devices. It will go a long way toward getting a head start on that in a deal with Verizon (NYSE: VZ).
According to The Wall Street Journal, "The deal under discussion, which would make Google the default search provider on Verizon devices and give it a share of ad revenue, is aimed at dramatically simplifying what is now a confusing set of search options for cellphone users."
The news is not good for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) or Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO). After losing the PC search battle, their next, and perhaps last, option to pick up substantial business is on mobile handsets. Because Verizon has about 70 million subscribers in the U.S., a large opportunity to gain share from Google is gone.
Deals with cellular carriers are overrated. Even if the default search engine is on a handset, users can still access any other search company through the phone's web browser.
If PC habits carry over to the wireless world, Google has already won the new war. Few people are likely to change search preferences from device to device.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com.