Yahoo Going All-In With iPhone App, Abandons Other Platforms (For Now)

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I admit I was surprisingly impressed with Yahoo for iPhone when it first came out, and an update within the last week brought even more improvements, but I’m not sure the app is so spectacular that Yahoo should pour all its effort into it at the expense of other platforms. But that’s what it’s thinking, apparently. The search company announced early this week that it would, in fact, be giving up ongoing efforts to develop a single smartphone app for BlackBerry (RIMM), Windows Mobile (MSFT), and Android (GOOG), and instead focus its efforts on the iPhone version and its mobile-formatted web site at this time.

So, for the time being at least, Yahoo is all about the iPhone, which is a tremendous credit to the platform. In a statement about the decision to discontinue the development of its smartphone app, the company stated that it would still consider working on specific apps for other platforms, as long as it made financial sense to do so. Yahoo’s Adam Taggart, head of product marketing for mobile, is quoted as saying “When you have finite resources, you want to say, ‘Where can I give the biggest bang for the buck?’” regarding the company’s decision to target the iPhone platform for the time being.

BlackBerry users may be in luck, because Yahoo appears to be pursuing possible development of a brand-new platform-specific app for distribution through BlackBerry App World, which is poised to be the next most profitable app distribution platform, and the possibility of a completely separate Android version appearing somewhere down the line still exists, too. Still, for now, Yahoo told smartphone beta testers via email where its current interest lies, in no uncertain words:

For the time being, we will be focusing our efforts on the newly launched Yahoo Mobile experience for browsers (available at new.m.yahoo.com) and for the iPhone (available via the Apple App Store).

This signals a significant milestone for the iPhone, as it becomes the “safe bet” in the mobile smartphone application market it helped pioneer (though many will recall HotSyncing programs to their Palm devices not too long ago). Yahoo’s not the only company with less capital on hand to spend on development, and if you’re strapped for cash, why take on a significantly higher degree of risk by coming out with an app for an unproven platform when the iPhone has already been so succesful? Even for independent developers, the unspoken message is clear: With the iPhone, you stand to make money. With anyone else, who knows?

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