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Yahoo! Eyes Voice Search Space

The market could be key for its mobile push.

The battle for voice search just got hotter.

On Thursday,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that



is eyeing the voice-powered search market. The company's move comes on the heels of an announcement last week by rival


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that it would test its own voice service, which allows users to find businesses.


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, meanwhile, also entered the space recently through its acquisition of privately held

TellMe Networks

for a reported sum of $800 million.

Driven by advances made in recent years in speech-recognition technologies, voice-powered search will be especially important for mobile device users. Entering text on the small keypads of rapidly proliferating mobile devices like cell phones and PDAs can be difficult.

Yahoo!'s move underscores the

rapidly escalating competition in the promising mobile space. Both Google and Yahoo! have signaled that they have high hopes for the sector. Last week, Google

announced a new feature for its popular Maps service that would be especially powerful if accessed through mobile devices. The search giant also announced a spate of partnerships with handheld-device makers over the quarter.

Yahoo! has also

been beefing up its mobile services. Along with frequent upgrades to its cornerstone oneSearch service, Yahoo! also recently announced a new mobile ad network.

And though its online efforts have been met with mixed results, Microsoft has also stepped up its search game as of late. The software giant is reportedly in talks to buy ad technology company


-- which also may have Google as a potential suitor. The TellMe acquisition also demonstrates that Microsoft may use its size and hoards of cash to muscle into the space.

Shares of Yahoo! were recently up 6 cents to $31.21; Google shares were up $1.55, or 0.3%, to $466.08.