Yahoo moves closer toward mobile platforms

November 2, 2011 7:45:22 PM PDT
There's turmoil in the executive offices at Sunnyvale's Yahoo as it searches for a new chief executive officer, but that's not stopping innovation: Yahoo is shifting its focus on mobile devices.

Despite uncertainty in the executive suite, Yahoo is focused on a shift to mobile devices. That's where the company sees its future, especially for millions of users internationally who use smartphones and tablets, not computers, to access the internet.

Since its beginning as a search engine in 1995, Yahoo never had a very snazzy homepage, and that continued into the new millennium. But one look at Yahoo now shows a big push on an immersive experience.

Yahoo unveiled a new app for the iPad on Wednesday called "Livestand," and it puts the emphasis on video and a new kind of interactive ad that comes to life.

Yahoo recognizes the tablet will soon surpass personal computers, so it's working hard on mobile services.

Another new service is "IntoNow" that listens to TV shows you're watching. It also analyzes the closed captioning, and then posts related stories or tweets.

Yahoo research claims nearly one-third of tablet owners are using them in tandem with their television.

"Individuals are more and more watching TV with a tablet on their lap, engaging in things that are like the same content they're watching on the tube at the time," said Yahoo chief product officer Blake Irving.

The IntoNow product may be especially useful for statistics-driven football fans.

"We can pull those stats out of our back end while someone's watching that football game," said Irving. "So this Sunday, I expect to see lots of folks using IntoNow, looking at their best players, maybe looking at their fantasy football leagues, and getting data in real-time while they're watching those games."

Yahoo also unveiled a new Android smartphone app that places photos appropriate to the time of day when you call up weather for other cities around the world.

"Mobile is much more important outside the U.S.," said Gartner Research analyst Van Barker. "It's important in the U.S., but it's even more important outside the U.S. because that's the primary platform for people."

The intriguing IntoNow TV app for iPad is available today on Apple's app store. Yahoo already has a strong following with 700 million users, but the challenge now will be to get those users to try its new services.


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