Yahoo’s relatively new CTO Ari Balogh expanded upon Yahoo’s “open” initiatives in a keynote speech to the Web2.0 conference yesterday. There’s a very extensive discussion, including a video of the keynote, on the TechCrunch site (additional coverage in Search Engine Journal). The SearchMonkey beta is the first step in executing on the strategy, which will roll out in increments over the next several months.
The “OS” part is not “operating system” but “open strategy.” Beyond openness, the themes of Balogh’s talk were making Yahoo more social, more consistent and unified, more personal, and even more “portable.”
Rather than creating another social network, Yahoo will be seeking to create a single profile that helps ground and center the social experience across the network. This is what has been missing at Yahoo — a social center (360 failed to gel and provide that). YOS also seeks to make the whole of Yahoo more social by overlaying relevant contacts and discussions on different pages within Yahoo, including the home page. To that end, there’s an emphasis on what amount of widgets (though that word isn’t used) can be placed throughout Yahoo on various pages. The whole strategy extends into mobile (consistent with the spirit of Yahoo onePlace).
Balogh also sought to court developers with tools that make it easy to develop on top of Yahoo, the platform. Balogh used the phrase “rewiring Yahoo” several times, indicating a range of technical changes on the back end to make APIs consistent and make the development environment more coherent and unified across the network.
In fact, the vision is impressively coherent and, if it can be pulled off, offers a successful differentiation of Yahoo from its competitors. It moves Yahoo in the direction of Facebook (a social platform for third-party developers) but with all the Yahoo traffic and content assets.
In one sense, it’s the consumer-facing version of the big vision that surrounds the AMP initiative on the advertiser side.
The looming question, however, is whether Yahoo will get to see these aspirations fulfilled if Microsoft buys the company, especially in light of ambitious, somewhat parallel initiatives by the latter.