Looks like new CEO Scott Thompson is wasting little time starting to get Yahoo’s house in order: just a few weeks into the new CEO’s tenure, the internet company is pulling support for 10 of its less-popular mobile apps.
In a blog post from Friday afternoon — the traditional time that many companies like to break bad news — Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) announced that it would stop developing and supporting 10 apps that it offers across various mobile platforms. They are Yahoo! Meme (iPad and iPhone); Yahoo! Mim (iPad); Yahoo! Answers (Android); Yahoo! AppSpot (Android and iPhone); Yahoo! Deals (iPhone); Yahoo! Finance (BlackBerry); Yahoo! Movies (Android); Yahoo! News (Android); Yahoo! Shopping (iPhone) and Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search (iPad and iPhone).
As you can see, the list is a mix of some of Yahoo’s more popular online brands and some services it created especially for mobile users, but all have one thing in common: they weren’t being used much by consumers. In the words of Yahoo itself, it is removing the apps as part of its effort “to continuously measure and scrutinize what’s working and what isn’t” as part of a new “mobile first” strategy.
What isn’t working? Yahoo has for years now been steadily falling behind Google in terms of how it has tackled the mobile opportunity.
This latest move seems like a particularly damning admission in the case of popular online brands such as Yahoo’s news and finance portals: it is yet another demonstration that Yahoo has failed to find mobile traction with consumers in some more obvious areas.
Meanwhile, others like Meme (Yahoo’s microblogging network), Deals and Shopping (mobile commerce initiatives) are signs that Yahoo’s attempts at creating me-too services to mimic those from more popular brands — like Twitter in the case of microblogging, or Groupon (NSDQ: GRPN) in the case of deals — have not come to much, either, at least on some platforms.
As for what is working, Yahoo says that it will continue to support a number of other apps: for now, News and Finance will continue, for example, on iOS; as will Sports, Mail, Messenger and Flickr. Yahoo is also pressing on with two new apps it launched last year, IntoNow, a GetGlue-like ‘check-in’ app for TV and other entertainment viewing; and Livestand, a Flipboard-like aggregated magazine (pictured).
But given that it’s easy enough to describe these apps in terms of popular competing services, one has to wonder if their days will also be numbered if take-up doesn’t take off.
Yahoo also notes that some of the technology in the de-commissioned apps, meanwhile, will be making its way into some of the apps that are staying online.
In his plans for building up Yahoo’s audience, usefulness and credibility once again, Thompson has made a point of talking up Yahoo’s culture of innovation — he mentioned it on his first conference call after taking the job; and again last week during his first quarterly earnings call. This should be the company’s way of making space to be able to execute on some of those ideas, and indeed Yahoo says it will be releasing new mobile products this year.
In that sense, it’s probably a step in the right direction. Thompson still has a very big task ahead, though, to convince an increasingly more distracted consumer base that this slightly tired Internet brand is one worth watching for the future.