Is Yahoo the end of Three’s Walled Garden?

A couple of days ago Yahoo and Three, a UMTS operator in a number of countries in Europe, Asia and Australia, announced a partnership to bring Yahoo services to Three’s customer base. Some news organizations like here, here and here are already speculating that this might mean the end for the walled garden strategy of Three.

I am a little bit more cautious in this regard as the original announcement just mentions that access to the Internet will be possible via a transcoding service for web pages delivered by Yahoo. Well, that’s a step forward but it’s still kind of a garden with a hedge around. As long as someone only wants to use the phone to browse the web via the mobile phone that’s probably o.k. but don’t dream that this offer will be useful in combination with a notebook.

I think this could be a win-win deal for both Three and Yahoo. Yahoo definitely needs such deals with operators in order to get their software pre-installed on mobile phones which is a precondition to reach an audience beyond early adopters who are willing and capable to install software on a mobile phone or type in URLs with the keypad in the mobile web browser to get to Yahoo’s services. Three on the other hand will surely welcome the attention the Yahoo brand will bring to its network.

For Yahoo, I think this is an important step in order to catch up with Google, who’s partnered with T-Mobile recently for its Web’n Walk mobile Internet access.

Great stuff, the mobile Internet is slowly tacking shape for the masses! In the next step the hedges and prices have to come down.