Mobile content, advertising, and search firm InfoSpace is rumored to be on the auction block with Spanish firm LaNetro Zed as the prospective buyer. According to the rumors, InfoSpace could fetch around $1.08 billion if the merger goes through. This deal could mark the end of the first phase of the mobile Web.InfoSpace was one of the pioneers of the mobile content market. The company offers technology that allows carriers to sell ringtones, graphics, and other content. InfoSpace also has agreements to provide mobile search technology to carriers including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.
InfoSpace reportedly lost a lucrative carrier contract with an unnamed carrier last year. Since then InfoSpace has been winding down much of its mobile business, looking to exit for greener pastures.
The departure of InfoSpace marks the end of phase I of the mobile Web, where content aggregators and middleware providers defined the mobile content space. With the entry of major Web companies like Google and the expansion of mobile offerings from the likes of Yahoo, the smaller players like InfoSpace are getting squeezed out of the industry.
The long-term prospects for the carrier deck don't seem so good. The future of most mobile content sales will be off-deck. I also suspect the future of other mobile services, including mobile search, will also be off-deck, but I suspect the wireless industry will have to go through the same foot dragging and delays the marked the evolution of mobile content sales. What do you think? Do the carriers have a future when it comes to mobile content?