Yahoo to launch personalized content platform
Targets iPad, Android and web, but it will come too late to rescue firm's mobile ambitions
Published: 8 February, 2011
Yahoo may finally have come up with a strong mobile idea, but it is almost certainly too late to give the firm a place on the top table. It is expected to unveil a heavily customizable mobile content platform at Mobile World Congress next week, which would let users get personalized items on their phones and tablets.
This fits in well with the general trend towards user-defined content, which will only increase with the uptake of tablets. But Yahoo is not breaking new ground - even AOL, the internet firm with even fewer mobile credentials, has already promised Editions, a personalized iPad magazine. And to make a real impact Yahoo needs something more radical.
To be fair, it did leap early onto some promising bandwagons, embracing mobile widgets well before Google and creating the very credible Yahoo Mobile platform. But its timing has always been off - too late with this new content venture, too early when it leapt into the browser/cloud model in mid-2009, dumping the Yahoo Mobile apps well before even Google was prepared to take that plunge.
The new platform will be focused on Apple and Android, and will be optimized for mobile devices, though it will be available via the web site. According to the NYT, more than 50 Yahoo engineers have collaborated on the effort, codenamed Deadeye, and there will be a line-up of third party publishers to support it too.
Last month, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz told investors to expect a new wave of mobile apps designed to reach consumers "no matter what device or operating system they're on". But this is hardly an original message. As The New York Times points out in its article on Yahoo's new product, "several crucial members of the mobile team have left in the last six months", perhaps because they had lost faith in the mobile strategy or the chances of gaining ground on Google and Facebook. These included Sandeep Gupta, who headed development of Yahoo's mobile app initiatives; David Ko, SVP of audience and mobile for north America; and mobile VP David Katz.
As of late 2010, Yahoo Mobile reached 49m unique mobile users a month.