@ MWC: Yahoo Rejigs Mobile Offering With Yahoo Mobile


image Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has launched a new product Yahoo Mobile, which rolls its OneSearch, OneConnect, and OnePlace products as well as other features such as Yahoo Maps, into a more convenient package than its previous attempt with Yahoo Go, which it replaces. More importantly, the new service is an open environment and allows users to more easily add the content and applications they want on their phone. Marco Boerries, EVP of Yahoo Connected Life, says its mobile division has introduced it as “your starting point for the internet, not just the mobile internet.” The product has three main capabilities, allowing consumers to search, staying connected with their friends and family through their social networks, and staying informed. It will be available on the mobile web, as an application developed for the iPhone, and from smartphones from *Nokia*, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM), *Samsung*, *Sony Ericsson*, *Motorola* and Windows Mobile handsets. We caught up with Mitch Lazar, Yahoo Europe’s head of mobile, to give us more information on the offering:

Generating revenue through advertising: Yahoo is sticking to advertising as its way of generating revenue from the product. According to Lazar, the new offering will streamline what users want from the mobile web in one place and attract more users, which should be more attractive for advertisers. Lazar: “The focus for us is to give consumers the simplest starting point on the internet, and give them access to everything in one place that’s not only Yahoo [applications and content]. If we give them simplicity, we engage them more, which provides incremental value to us and partners. We need to create an ecosystem that we all get value out of.”

Positioning in the market: Lazar wouldn’t go into specifics into how this positioned Yahoo against Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Nokia’s growing range of internet services, saying instead that all of the new products and announcements “raises the tide for everyone… When consumers start using the mobile internet more, we all win.” Of course, some will be bigger winners than others, which Lazar said, is a matter of investing and creating the “right products” that consumers want.

App store in the works?: One of the interesting features on Yahoo mobile is the ability to “Add Anything” to Yahoo mobile, including widgets from its Yahoo Widgets product, which are all currently free. It’s easy to see how this “Add Anything” functionality could easily be linked to an application store. Moreover, in September, Yahoo started trying to increase the awareness of its mobile development platform Blueprint, which previously could be used by developers to create widgets specifically for Yahoo Go, but was upgraded to allow them to create standalone apps that could be more widely distributed. Is an application store something Yahoo is considering? “Potentially,” said Lazar, who noted, yes, the functionality could be easily added. He said, however, that it was currently “down to the developers” (as Blueprint’s wider app building capability is relatively new) and Yahoo would see what they created before moving ahead.

More features from Yahoo Mobile after the jump …

Discover: Works with OneSearch, its mobile search product, that pulls up results based on mobile context. Will also include latest news picked by Yahoo!’s editorial staff.

Connect: Brings together a number of Yahoo services including oneConnect, which provides easy access to email, either from Yahoo or another service provider; Pulse, which gives consumers access to all of their social nets in one place; Yahoo! Messenger, its IM service; Yahoo! Address Book, which keeps contacts in one place, and Yahoo! Calender.

“Stay Informed”: Offers up Yahoo News, and its Yahoo onePlace feature that allows users to access and manage their content from one location. Includes an “Add Anything” functionality which allows users to search and browse for additional content or services and applications they want. Consumers can add interests pre-selected lists or from the wider mobile web.

Availability: An invitation-only beta program for Yahoo Mobile rolled out today at http://mobile.yahoo.com. The product goes on general release on the mobile web in late March and will be available to those devices running WebKit-based browsers including many *Nokia* Series 60 and Android devices, Opera Mini 4.x, Windows Mobile devices with Internet Explorer Mobile, and the BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm browsers. iPhone Application: Expected late March. Application for hundreds of select models from *RIM*, Windows Mobile, *Nokia* S60 and 40, *Samsung*, *Sony* *Ericsson* and *Motorola* expected in late May.

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Hi Desmond–To answer your first two questions, the one big difference with this new offering is that it also allows you to put in applications that don't belong to Yahoo, while Yahoo Go only allowed you to use their services. Personally, I think it looks better than a WAP offering and is certainly easier to navigate. As for the last question, you can still get the service via the mobile web. Hope that helps.

Desmond Pieri

Dianne, your article is interesting and begs the following three questions:
1. How is this anything more than a "gluing together" three existing Yahoo! products?
2. This does seem to be more of a "portal" than Yahoo! has offered in the past, but how is this any better than WAP?
3. And it runs on smart phones. What about the over 70% of the market that is "feature phones?" What's Yahoo! going to offer to us?

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