Are Google, Yahoo the next dinosaurs?

Like Google, Medio's service is geared around a simple "search box" format. That's where the similarity ends, CEO Brian Lent says. Medio "was designed as a pure-play company for the mobile industry."

Unlike Google, he says, Medio's patented algorithm hones in on "mobile discovery," producing far more relevant answers for users. Example: A search for a Madonna ring tone might also result in links to a CNN article about the singer, as well as V Cast, the mobile music channel offered by Verizon.

"That's a lot different than crawling the Web" as Google does every time a query is received, Lent says.

Another difference: Medio is a "white label" company that works directly with big carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile. Carriers, in turn, rebrand Medio's service under their own names.

Lent has a very personal view of the Web's biggest search engine. A data-mining expert, Lent was part of the academic team that worked on Google when it was still a lab project at Stanford. He left to take a job at Amazon a month before Google was incorporated.

Lent, who remains friends with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, says he's hugely admiring of Google's pioneering efforts. The Web giant, now a Medio partner, almost single-handedly raised the online search category to a new level, he says, introducing billions of people to the wonders of the Web.

But now it's a new world, he says — a wireless world. "Everyone wants to bash the incumbent, but I'd rather take a playbook out of judo and leverage the strengths that they have" and build on top of that, Lent says.

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