Having a Web connection on a cellphone seemed like a good thing for Ron Geatz - until he tried to use it. A business traveler, Geatz often found himself in strange cities, searching for things like restaurants or nearby ATMs. But navigating the small screen of a phone was less than ideal.

Now, searching on a mobile phone is starting to undergo a makeover that takes into account how mobile Web surfing can be different from surfing on a home PC. Companies including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and AOL are investing in new ways of offering mobile search -- and related advertising -- to try to encourage users like Geatz to use the wireless Web more.

Today, only a small fraction of people use their phones to search the Web, but many companies see the technology as a critical frontier.

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