Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has been no stranger to the apps rush that has swept through the mobile world, and now there are signs that it is looking to redouble its tablet efforts with a new HTML5 product. PaidContent understands that it is preparing for an autumn launch, possibly as soon as this week, for Livestand, a mobile web, tablet-focused digital newsstand project that it first announced back in February this year.
According to a source close to Yahoo, the company will be using the annual Advertising Week event, taking place October 3-7 in New York, for another update on the project. That could include the actual launch: a Yahoo spokesperson only confirmed to paidContent that it is on track to go live “this autumn.”
Yahoo is giving an Advertising Week press conference this morning Monday. [Update: That was to announce the latest ABC News-Yahoo News partnership.]
But although former-CEO Carol Bartz demonstrated Livestand during a keynote at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona back in February (one week after the company started to brief journalists about the product), don’t take that as a sign that Yahoo plans for a global launch from day-one. When asked for details about Livestand, the spokesperson referred only to a “U.S. launch” of the product.
In an interview in Media Week in September, Blake Irving, chief product officer, noted that Livestand might not reach other markets until some time in 2012.
Livestand, which is being created to work specifically on tablets, is part of Yahoo’s strategy for leveraging the growing audience of consumers that are turning to tablets. It has a window of opportunity at the moment: Unlike other tablet-friendly aggregated-reading products like Flipboard, Pulse or Zite, it appears that Yahoo will be taking the web route with its product and publishing it as an HTML5 app. The other products, in contrast, are distributed as apps through app stores (in the case of Flipboard and Zite, only on iPad; Pulse publishes for Android devices, too).
Like other digital newsstand providers, Yahoo’s big hope is that it will be able to use the format to sell more advertising around the offering. It hopes to entice publishers to the platform by proposing an easier route to the tablet market without the need to think of different platforms, app stores and respective commission rates; and users a more convenient, one-stop shop for getting all the publications they like to read. (See our digital newsstand comparison table for more details.)
Even without a permanent CEO in place at the moment since Bartz was fired in September — which she coincidentally broadcast to employees via an iPad tablet — the company looks like it will be staying on that course for the time being.
But as we pointed out when Bartz first left the company, Yahoo’s record in mobile has not been stellar. The company has been slipping behind in terms of rankings for mobile advertising revenue; and it has lost a string of mobile executives to other companies like Zynga and Groupon, which could not have had a positive effect on how it has focused and invested in the space.
But don’t count Yahoo out. Last week, the company unveiled a host of new mobile-friendly features for its photo-sharing site, Flickr, including (finally) and Android app. It already had an app for iPhones.
It also has a track record for developing for HTML5 already. For example, in August 2010 the company launched an iPad-friendly HTML5 client for its popular Yahoo Mail service.