By Keith Regan
Telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said that all Web companies want to extend their reach to the mobile phone as the device evolves from a communications tool to a "third screen" for customers, after the TV and PC. "Companies like Google and Yahoo are entering the wireless space because they know the future of wireless is much more than phone calls," he added.
Search leader Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has launched a mobile-friendly version of its popular Web-based e-mail service, Gmail, offering a streamlined interface meant to be more compatible with small screens.
Anyone with a Gmail account and a Web-enabled phone can access Gmail remotely. Google said the service detects the type of device being used to access the mail account and returns message listings and e-mails in an appropriate format based on the size of the screen and other factors.
The service will also automatically synchronize Gmail accounts, showing messages viewed remotely as read the next time a user logs on from a PC, and will enable mobile users to open certain attachments, including text files in Office or in PDF format.
Gmail mobile also offers a "call to reply" feature that works this way: If a user has stored the phone number of an e-mail sender in his or her contacts list, an opened message can be replied to either by a return text message or by calling that person's number.
Google, handheld, mobile