Ninemsn goes local, completes HWW buy

The joint venture between Microsoft and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd today launched a search service for local businesses called MyLocal and completed the acquisition of mobile content syndication firm HWW.Ninemsn announced plans to acquire Sydney-based HWW last year but the companies only finalised the deal on Monday.

The joint venture between Microsoft and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd today launched a search service for local businesses called MyLocal and completed the acquisition of mobile content syndication firm HWW.

Ninemsn announced plans to acquire Sydney-based HWW last year but the companies only finalised the deal on Monday. HWW provides mobile content syndication to many of the major carriers -- including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Hutchison -- as well as Yahoo, which is not an issue, according to ninemsn CEO Martin Hoffman.

"We work very closely with, for example Yahoo, on search advertising and their shopping service -- they are a competitor of ours but they provide us with feeds of information in those areas," Hoffman told ZDNet Australia. "These days you can work well together as well as being a competitor".

According to Hoffman, HWW's new parent will not affect its current partnerships: "We are confident that HWW will continue to operate on its own brand and its own teams and continue providing high quality syndicated services to those players".

Aiming for a million
MyLocal, which is still in beta form, currently has around 800,000 listings of local Australian businesses. Hoffman said he hopes that number will pass the one million mark but did not indicate a timeframe.

"At this stage we are improving it every week in terms of the amount of listings that are there. There are 800,000 there and we are looking at pushing that towards the million mark -- and continue to tweak the algorithms and database of terms," he said.

In addition, Hoffman said that interactivity with MyLocal over a mobile phone is already possible but will become more so going forward.

"That is particularly important... you have done the search and are heading out and want to get the results on your phone to take with you -- that is very easy to do," Hoffman added.