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Yahoo Makes Bid To Become A Mobile Development Platform
Last night at CES, Yahoo made several related mobile announcements tied to its application Go and a new bid to become a mobile platform for third party publishers and developers. There are essentially three pieces to what Yahoo announced: Yahoo Go 3.0 (not yet live), an open mobile widget development platform for third parties, and a redesigned mobile WAP homepage that emphasizes personalization and customization. The first partners for Yahoo’s new open mobile platform are eBay, MTV, and MySpace. There’s also a bigger mobile display ad push by Yahoo in this set of releases.
Yahoo’s oneSearch WAP search offering was innovative when it was released but was quickly mimicked by Google and others in terms of offering blended content on mobile handsets (images, news, etc.). Yahoo Go was also an innovative, if flawed, application. Its chief flaw was the lack of customization or personalization, which the new release has apparently remedied.
But what’s most interesting among these announcements is the reinvention of Yahoo Go (and, to some degree, the WAP site) as a platform for third party developers (a la the iPhone or Android). Yahoo says that a developer SDK will be out in the coming weeks. Some will complain that it represents yet another mobile platform to develop for, but it’s smart for Yahoo to open up this way. Companies such as uLocate/Where and Microsoft-backed Zumobi are also positioning themselves as widget platforms for third parties.
Yahoo has been trying to get Go pre-installed on millions of handsets and has aggressively built relationships with handset makers and mobile operators in Asia and Europe. Go currently works on approximately 30 mobile devices.
None of the new apps/sites are live and I’ve not had the chance to get “hands on” with any of the new features, so they are largely speculative at the moment. Here’s how Yahoo’s public relations folks summarized the new features and capabilities:
Yahoo! Go 3.0 beta:
New features include:
Enhanced user interface, optimized for the mobile phone.
For the first time, consumers will have access to third-party widgets from leading publishers through Yahoo! Go.
Yahoo! Go 3.0 also includes display advertising from Yahoo!’s major global advertisers. Consumers will be able to interact with these ads by clicking to call the advertiser directly or to learn more about the offer.
New Open Mobile Widget Platform:
The platform is an open environment for developers to create mobile Widgets for instant access by millions of consumers.
Widgets created on the Mobile Widget Platform will be available to consumers from various starting points, including Yahoo! Go 3.0 and Yahoo!’s new mobile homepage.
The platform will enable developers to write code once and publish their content across Yahoo!’s mobile network, allowing accelerated delivery of a feature-rich mobile experience.
The platform will enable consumers more control over their experience, as well, by providing the functionality to add and delete Widgets at any time.
Full-featured SDK for developers to be introduced over the coming weeks.
Third-party Widget launch partners include, eBay, MySpace, and MTV.
Redesigned Mobile Homepage
Completely redesigned and engineered mobile interface from the ground up.
Homepage centers around intuitive navigational structure where consumers can tailor content according to needs, interests and location.
Available to consumers in the United States on high-end mobile browsers, which are included in devices such as the Apple iPhone, several Nokia Series 60 devices, including the N95, and select Windows Mobile devices. Availability across additional devices and countries to come in the near future.
Personal Vitality and Status Updates: Provides an at-a-glance update of what’s new since the last visit – including recent emails, Flickr photos from your friends, upcoming calendar appointments and status of Messenger contacts – without moving away from the home screen or logging into a separate application.
Customizable Content: Offers a collection of mobile content modules – or Snippets – that provide previews of the user’s favorite content – news headlines, weather conditions, etc – whatever the user wants. In many cases, Snippets are extensions of mobile widgets and can be used to launch a full-featured widget built on Yahoo!’s Mobile Widget Platform.
Quick Links: Customizable links at the bottom of the page, providing fast access to the Yahoo! features or sites across the Internet that consumers use the most. Consumers can easily add and remove Quick Links as they desire.