Two weeks ago at CTIA, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) rolled out its new mobile homepage, providing a glimpse of how the company wants to personalize the Internet for users on both the mobile web and PC.
The new mobile homepage, found at new.m.yahoo.com, is a dashboard of sorts, which aims to aggregate services on to one page, such as the news, weather, emails, RSS feeds and status updates from several social networks sites, including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. With this approach, Yahoo hopes to eliminate what they call “App Fatigue,” which is the whip-lash-like experience of going into and out of several applications to read email, check your calendar, see the news and update your social status. The aggregated homepage is different from what we’ve seen from Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which is appears to be focused on creating very high-quality standalone products, like maps, gmail, etc.
Yahoo’s Senior Director of product marketing for Yahoo Mobile Adam Taggart told mocoNews that the dashboard idea is “big for Yahoo in general,” and that the mobile group is out in front, but that similar services will come to the PC web, as well. “Our identity has been confused, but we want the portal to be the starting point for the internet,” he said.
Currently, Yahoo’s online equivalent is My Yahoo, which allows you to pick widgets based on things that are important to you, ranging from RSS feeds, to stock symbols to email accounts, like Yahoo and Gmail. Taggart said aggregation will be vital as people are constantly managing more information and more accounts. The problem is somewhat compounded on mobile because users may have several applications. Taggart: “We believe there is ‘app fatigue.’ You may download 10 to 30 applications, but then only use two.”
That doesn’t mean the company won’t develop standalone apps, in fact, it recently launched a Yahoo Messenger application for the iPhone. It is also developing standalone apps for Yahoo Mobile, starting with the iPhone, but more platforms will be supported shortly. But mostly, the objective is for the homepage to work easily in a web browser, which are getting more powerful on mobile phones all the time.
The launch two weeks ago dramatically updates what was Yahoo’s default mobile web experience. Before, there was a list of text links for things like, Yahoo Mail, Messenger, News or Maps (which is still live at m.yahoo.com. With the new Yahoo homepage, it’s a graphical experience. At the top of the page is the oneSearch search bar, and below is the top news story of the day (currently, its about Beyonce abandoning her usual fashion sense). Then, there’s a list of links to your Yahoo Mail, or other email addresses, like Gmail and Hotmail. If logged in, it will say how many unread messages you have.
There’s also a link called pulse, which notifies you if you have any updates from your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Through customization, users can add the weather, RSS feeds, stock symbols, or even topics, like the Seattle Mariners, which will alert you to game scores or game times. In testing the service, it seems a bit buggy. On both the iPhone and T-Mobile G1, I was automatically redirected to the German version of the site (Testen Sie das neue Yahoo! What?). It worked fairly flawlessly on the BlackBerry 8900, however, there were bugs there, too. For example, adding the weather just never worked. The downloadable iPhone application also doesn’t appear to be perfect. It has an average rating of three out of five stars on iTunes. The biggest complaint seems to be that when you click on a news story, it leaves the application and launches the Safari browser to read it. One user writes: “It is basically a portal for Safari…I can open any Yahoo page I want without this!” Another rub? No Fantasy Sports.