After Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) SDK event, I drove north to Sunnyvale to meet up with Yahoo’s (NSDQ: YHOO) mobile group. I figured since I was in the neighborhood, and I’m from Seattle, I might as well make the most out of the trip. As I headed into the meeting with Steve Boom, Yahoo’s SVP of Broadband and Mobile, it was my goal to understand Yahoo’s mobile strategy, which has trickled out over the past year. As an unintentional outcome, I also found myself bouncing off what Yahoo was telling me with what Apple said earlier that day. What I learned is that both companies are trying to bring the Internet to the mobile phone, but in entirely different ways.
One of the first things Steve Jobs said on stage was that 71 percent of mobile browsing in the U.S. is conducted by Safari. “The iPhone is bringing the Internet to a mobile device for the first time,” he declared. That’s clearly a lot of usage and reach, but one might argue Yahoo’s goals are much grander. In a nutshell, Yahoo wants to be on every phone, not just the iPhone. By the end of the year, Apple guesses it will have about 10 million handsets in the market. Compare that to Yahoo, which can potentially reach 600 million subscribers today.
At that size, Boom said it’s a big enough market for applications and advertising to become truly successful. That’s also why he found it interesting that John Doerr, partner of world-famous VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said they were committing $100 million to a fund exclusively for iPhone applications (what could be conceived as a relatively small market). “The opportunity of the mobile Internet is much bigger than the iPhone — that