Yahoo this week used the CTIA Wireless show to preview availability of its Yahoo oneConnect social address book in Apple's iPhone App Store and upgraded its Blueprint mobile development platform.
OneConnect, which Yahoo introduced last February, lets users integrate their Yahoo contacts and communicate with them via instant or SMS messages, or check on the latest activity from their social networks.
OneConnect is part of Yahoo's YOS (Yahoo Open Strategy) to open up its traditionally siloed services used by some 273 million Yahoo Mail users, allowing them to be more interactive, making the application more social and collaborative.
The company is accelerating YOS at a Yahoo Hack day at its Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, where it is opening up its portal to services from Amazon, Netflix and others. Yahoo has already opened up its search platform to let third-party programmers write widgets that aim to augment the search results.
The idea is that more open search combined with open communication between contacts will make exsiting users stay and lure more users to Yahoo's fold. Yahoo could use broader adoption, as its stock is suffering in the wake of a failed acquisition bid by Microsoft.
What better way to test oneConnect than on Apple's popular iPhone? Yahoo oneConnect for iPhone includes the address book that integrates contacts from the user's Yahoo Address Book, iPhone and social networks. Users may then instant message friends from their iPhones.
The mobile app also includes Pulse, which lets users see what's happening on their social networks, including Bebo, Dopplr, Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, Last.fm, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. There is also a Favorites tab to let users keep tabs on their most important contacts.
oneConnect is available free for the iPhone and iPod touch in the United States, with support for additional devices and other countries coming later.
Yahoo also gave its Blueprint mobile development platform, previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show last January, a boost at CTIA.
Previously, the platform only let users create mobile widgets that run within Yahoo's Go mobile application.
Now developers can use Blueprint to build standalone applications for Java, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, create mobile Web sites users can access from HTML or xHTML mobile browser. Yahoo Blueprint Runtime for Mobile Sites are hosted in developers' server infrastructure and are accessible under their own URL.
The runtime creates a proxy layer that redirects HTTP requests from programmers' servers to Yahoo's servers. This allows developers to host the Blueprint service on their own server while relying on Yahoo's back end to interpret and render Blueprint markup.
Continuing to embrace the iPhone, Yahoo is also using Blueprint internally to develop iPhone applications and is in discussion with Apple on how to make Blueprint for the iPhone available to other developers.
With Blueprint, Yahoo wants to help the fragmented mobile app development market to coalesce around its platform by allowing programmers to write apps once and have mobile services run across several devices and operating systems.
The beauty of this process, to Yahoo's thinking, is that anyone can develop their application with custom features and advertising options.
Accordingly, Blueprint contains an SDK for third-party developers. Developers can submit Yahoo's Blueprint applications to Yahoo's mobile widget gallery, potentially reaching millions of mobile users.
Meanwhile, Yahoo and frenemy Google await sentencing by the Department of Justice on their search ad deal, which would give both companies some sales bumps.