Yahoo isn’t acting like a company facing a hostile takeover from Microsoft.
One day after rejecting Microsoft’s $44.6 billion offer, the company made a series of moves to fortify its Internet services.
These include the acquisition of online video platform maker Maven Networks for $160 million, a key search deal with T-Mobile and the creation of a mobile communications service that bundles social networking.
In acquiring Maven, Yahoo will be able to offer its publishing partners, such as eBay, Comcast, a newspaper consortium and Forbes.com a media player through which to distribute premium online video content.
Maven also makes an “advertising insertion engine,” inventory management and reporting tools, and advanced ad formats to help publishers boost ad inventory. Yahoo will offer the media player and ad engine to its publishers.
For advertisers, adding Maven’s platform to Yahoo’s search and display offering could create more inventory and more diverse ad choices. Forrester Research estimates that U.S. online video advertising will grow to more than $4 billion in 2011.
The deal is a significant play to boost Yahoo’s video ad plans, which along with mobile and social networking ads are expected to bring significant rewards for Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in 2008 and beyond.
On the present mobile search and advertising front, T-Mobile has picked Yahoo’s OneSearch to replace Google’s mobile search software as the exclusive mobile search service for T-Mobile customers in Europe starting at the end of March. OneSearch, which Yahoo said has more than 600 million subscribers, will help consumers access Web sites, news, financial information, weather information, photos and Web images.
The deal, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is a coup for Yahoo, which leads the market in display ads but is fighting it out with Google and Microsoft in mobile search. Yahoo’s display ads are one of the factors making the company so attractive to Microsoft, which is looking to buy Yahoo to better compete with search and ad market leader Google.
One service that extends and complements OneSearch is Yahoo’s new OneConnect, a mobile communications suite that synchronizes between users’ social networks and their e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging platforms.
OneConnect includes a “socially connected address book,” based on technology Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang introduced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
This feature let users access their MySpace or LinkedIn accounts from their address books. The software will allow users to view status updates, photo uploads and the recent activity of contacts across their networks.
This social tool will be integrated with instant messaging, text messaging and e-mail services to enable conversations among contacts in the various social networks.
IM platforms Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger will be able to hook into OneConnect through an API in which messages will be threaded along with text messages, while widgets will let users access their Yahoo Mail, MSN Hotmail, Gmail and AOL Mail e-mail accounts.
Moreover, location-sensing technology in OneConnect will let users locate, chat with and exchange contact information with other OneConnect users. OneConnect is expected to become available in Yahoo’s Go 3.0 mobile service and the new mobile home page in the second quarter of 2008.
Yahoo’s positive news comes as the company prepares to fend off what is expected to be Microsoft’s next move: Microsoft is expected to raise its bid, which initially was $31 per share, a 62 percent premium bid.