Yahoo Evangelizes Mobile Philosophy, Software at CES

Yahoo bets on Widgets, handing developers a Facebook-like ability to build mobile applications.

Yahoo on Jan. 7 used the Consumer Electronics Show as the stage to launch a mobile software developer platform, its new mobile service platform for consumers and a redesigned home page for its Web site for mobile device users.

Just as Facebook's open development platform was created to help programmers write applications for social network users, Yahoo's Mobile Developer Platform is intended to give developers the tools to write applications called Yahoo Mobile Widgets for consumers of mobile Web services via smart phones and other mobile gadgets.

Tools available on the Yahoo's Mobile Developer Platform will let developers write code and instantly publish to the Web.

Yahoo said in a statement that consumers can choose Mobile Widgets from the Yahoo Widget Gallery, which is accessible from Yahoo Go 3.0 and the new mobile home page. The week of Jan. 7, consumers will be able to access mobile bidding services from eBay, check MySpace mail and surf breaking MTV news content thanks to widgets built by Yahoo's partners.

Mobile device makers LG Electronics and Motorola are collaborating to make Yahoo Mobile Widgets available on several devices.

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are targeting the mobile Internet sector as the next big green field to generate billions of dollars of online advertising. Yahoo, in particular, could benefit from this effort. The company has been mired in a financial slump and has been reorganizing to become nimbler and more competitive with its rivals.

Yahoo's new platform is also designed to contend with Google's Android mobile operating stack, which launched Nov. 5 to target the millions of cell phone users hungry for search, corporate collaboration and other applications that improve on current wireless experiences.

Click here to read more about Google's Android mobile operating system.

Matt Booth, senior vice president and program director for Interactive Local Media at The Kelsey Group, told eWEEK on Jan. 7 that Yahoo is placing a long-term bet on the mobile market.

"They have a big share of the mobile market and have a lot of assets and content, so I think they're in a really good position where they can exploit this and make it work well," Booth said.

Given Google's Android mission and its plan to bid on the 700MHz wireless spectrum, Booth also said Yahoo is currently viewed as less of a threat than Google and has the opportunity to go out and ink some partnerships with telecommunications carriers.

Flickr and e-mail on Go 3.0

Yahoo on Jan. 7 also unveiled an early beta of Go 3.0, Yahoo's flagship mobile service stack, boasting an upgraded user interface, a personalized start page and customizable access to third-party widgets from the Mobile Developer Platform.

The new Home widget for Go 3.0 shows users an update of what's new since their last visit, including how many new e-mails have arrived, upcoming calendar appointments and new photos posted to Flickr.

Go 3.0 is also Yahoo's mobile moneymaker, situating display ads from Yahoo's global advertisers in front of consumers who can click on them and interact with them, whether by calling the advertiser directly or learning more information about the advertiser's offer.

IDC analyst Karsten Weide said that after video advertising, mobile advertising will move the most money over the next five to 10 years.

"Mobile advertising will be the decisive battlefield for the dominance of the digital marketplace long-term," Weide told eWEEK Jan. 7. "If Yahoo manages to interest a lot of developers or publishers [in using its] new development tool to publish their content through Yahoo on mobile devices, that will be a big step forward for Yahoo."

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