Online search titan Google has launched a new US local information service via internet-enabled cellphones.

It offers local maps and details of businesses to users on the move, accesible through a standard Google web page featuring boxes for 'what' and 'where'. The site does not carry display ads but raises cash from businesses paying for prominent placement on results pages.

The trial service will compete with that launched last year by Yahoo!, also one planned for later this year by Ask Jeeves. US local businesses spend around $14 billion (€10.8bn, £7.4bn) annually on advertising in offline directories. Search engines are now targeting that market.

Says Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's vp for product management: "Google's mobile search and Google SMS services are important advancements in our goal to provide users with immediate access to valuable information anywhere and anytime."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff