Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang Holds Forth On Mobile
Yahoo is trying to do for mobile devices what it did for the Internet-connected computer a decade ago.
Today during a keynote speech here at CES, Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang made a slew of announcements geared toward attracting eyeballs on cellphones. The biggest news is that the company is opening up its mobile platform to outside programmers so they can develop mini-applications called widgets that can be compatible on a wider range of devices. Yang said these applications will attract more users and help increase advertising revenues.
"It's time to get Yahoo yodeling again," Yang said.
The announcements appear to be Yahoo's way of trying to catch up to similar news from rival Google, which two months ago announced a mobile software platform that will be open to developers. Yahoo, once the Internet search leader, is also trying to fend off Google from grabbing even more market share of that business.
The idea, he said, is to make the entire Internet available on the phone rather than simply offering Yahoo features. To that end, the company launched a new mobile homepage today with features that are more customized to each person.
It's intended to be the starting point for mobile web browsing, much like Yahoo was for PC Internet surfing. The new homepage keeps track of what you do and lets you know what's happened since you last checked your phone. It can give you the scores of sports teams you've identified as your favorites. Or it can tell you that a friend has posted new photos of you on Flickr.
The company also launched a new version of its Yahoo Go platform, or it's mobile Web-browser. Yahoo is letting third-party developers create their own widgets to make available through a "widget gallery." Consumers get to choose which ones they want to access. Outside publishers are also working with Yahoo to put their own widgets in the gallery. For example, Viacom has agreed to make MTV News available through a widget on Yahoo's Go application. Ebay and MySpace have also agreed to put widgets on the phones to keep you updated about friend requests or auction bids.
The company hopes advertisers will follow. Typically, advertisers face similar problems as developers when trying to get content in front of mobile phone users. They have to work with a variety of different handsets and software systems.
Yang said he hopes advertisers can develop their own applications to compliment the content being made available on the mobile web.
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