Mobile Platforms

Yahoo! Integrates 'My Yahoo' into Mobile

Yahoo! Go 3.0 and the new mobile homepage aren't live yet -- we're eagerly waiting for them -- but we were able to discuss the changes and upgrades with Yahoo! yesterday briefly from CES. From a consumer standpoint, the things that are most tantalizing and promising are the personalization features that Yahoo! has built into the new homepage and Go application.

In addition, the company is bringing the mobile homepage and Go application much closer together. The new mobile homepage will work with any mobile browser and offers a range of customization options that are tied to My Yahoo (as are those in Go). Smartly, Yahoo! appears to be starting to integrate the desktop and mobile experiences, which is a strategic necessity.

Go will offer a richer version of the mobile browser experience but with identical customization capabilities. The mobile widgets will work equally on the WAP site or in Go. The widgets also offer intriguing possibilities for advertisers, who can use them to build applications or rich landing pages.

We'll write more about all this once we get a chance to download Go.

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Related: Yahoo's Yang Outlines Vision For An Integrated, Open Yahoo 2.0

Yahoo! Go/Mobile Morphs into a Development Platform

Yahoo! has much at stake in the success of its mobile efforts and the company is being about as aggressive as possible in this arena, building numerous OEM and carrier relationships on a global basis. Now Yahoo! has announced that it's releasing Go 3.0 (not live), a new mobile homepage that emphasizes personalization and, most importantly, that it is now opening up to third-party publishers and developers as a (widget) platform.

Partners at launch are eBay, MTV and MySpace. Here's how Yahoo! PR has summarized the chief features and improvements of Go, the widget platform and the new mobile WAP site/homepage:

Yahoo! Go 3.0 beta:

New features include:

Enhanced user interface, optimized for the mobile phone.

Improved performance.

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

New features:

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, sever Nokia Series 60 devices, including the N95, and select Windows Mobile devices. Availability across additional devices and countries to come in the near future.

Key features:

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.

Now Yahoo! goes head-to-head as a platform with Google's Android, Windows Mobile and the iPhone, even as it's optimizing its WAP site for iPhones. With its widget approach Yahoo! competes with uLocate's Where and Microsoft-backed Zumobi, which both see themselves as platforms for third parties.

The bottom line, as always, is about the user experience. Neither the new WAP site nor Go 3.0 are live yet. We'll write more as we get a chance to have some "face time" with these apps.

Intelligence on Windows Mobile 7

Here's a very long and detailed (and somewhat technical) post about Microsoft's intriguing plans for Windows Mobile 7. From our point of view, and according to the post, many of the design and functionality upgrades are responses to the sensation caused by the iPhone and the fact that the latter has quickly overtaken Windows Mobile in terms of market share.

The improved user experience reflected in the post is good for users, as desktop titans, carriers and OEMs such as Nokia engage in an intensifying battle for mobile consumers.

Yahoo! Readying Search Ads for Mobile

Earlier this summer I spoke with Yahoo!'s Lee Ott (here's a video interview with Ott [not by me]), director of product marketing for Yahoo! mobile, who indicated that Yahoo! was not going to hastily follow Google's lead a distribute its paid search advertisers into oneSearch results or elsewhere on the mobile Web. It was concentrating on banners and brands for the time being. (AOL and MSN are essentially doing the sample, although AOL has access to JumpTap's mobile index and search advertisers.)

The basic reason Ott offered was that the search marketers themselves weren't ready for mobile and the result would be a generally uneven or poor user experience for the consumers, as click-throughs would often go to pages that weren't intended for mobile distribution. Google, which has moved very aggressively to extend its desktop search franchise into mobile, recently introduced a hosted mobile landing page option for marketers that seeks to remedy the problem that Ott identifies.

Now this article (subscription required) says that Yahoo!'s paid search platform Panama is being readied to support mobile and that mobile and desktop search ads will be "integrated" in Q1 of next year.

Search has emerged as a critical consumer behavior in mobile already and Yahoo! is apparently preparing the way for the paid search monetization of its myraid distribution deals, which now are exclusively focused on display advertising.

Yahoo! Japan Selects MCN for Vertical Search on Mobile

Mobile Content Networks, Inc. (MCN) was selected to power music search on the Yahoo! Japan mobile site. This is the first of several vertical search channels to be launched on Yahoo! Japan. The MCN search box and channels are independent of general, "horizontal search" on the Yahoo! Japan site.

MCN competes against JumpTap, Medio, Fast/InfoSpace and, in fact, Yahoo! with carriers. But marketing SVP Stephen Burke stresses that the company can work with any number of players, including those competitors and can integrate and "federate" their content and/or advertising. Think of it as mobile "meta-search."

Burke says MCN does mobile search better and cheaper than anyone. However, unlike other parties, the company doesn't offer a mobile index. Instead MCN taps directly into content sources, which it characterizes as "federated search." Burke said the company abandoned its mobile index approach a few years ago after discovering that it was "too expensive" and couldn't accommodate all the mobile content being developed.

Burke also told me that there will be a number of announcements coming in the next several weeks and months.

CallGenie in DA 'Category Search' Deal with AT&T

Here's the news from the release that went out this a.m.:

CallGenie, a leading provider of localized, voice-enabled search solutions to Yellow Pages publishers, directory assistance providers and wireless carriers, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with AT&T, in which Call Genie will provide its EVD (Enhanced Voice Directory) business category search product and related services to support the AT&T business category search feature. This feature will give users of AT&T directory assistance the opportunity to search by type of business in addition to searching by business name in the 9 Southeastern states.

CallGenie recently acquired mobile content provider and ad exchange PhoneSpots, as well as EU-based DA services provider BTSLogic.

CallGenie Buys PhoneSpots for $5.75 Million

CallGenie

Voice services and platform provider CallGenie announced that it has acquired mobile ad exchange and directory assistance content provider PhoneSpots, which was formerly PocketThis. The announced acquisition price was $5.75 million (mostly stock). The acquisition is expected to close in early 2008 and gives CallGenie additional partner relationships and a powerful ad platform to offer a much more comprehensive solution to the marketplace.

PhoneSpots has been around since 1999 and pioneered the "send to mobile" feature now in widespread use on local search sites. PhoneSpots originally offered enhanced results (additional content and links) from directory assistance queries when users opted to receive them as text messages. Its relationships were primarily in Europe. Most recently PhoneSpots announced its first US customer relationship with AT&T, to power the YellowPages.com "send to mobile" feature and the company's YP411 SMS platform.

PhoneSpots built a sophisticated platform that is compatible with a wide range of phones and mobile "modalities." The company can deliver enhanced content and ads in text messages or to mobile browsers and can support local search ads/content that originate via voice search/directory assistance, text queries or WAP search. In addition, as a mobile ad exchange, PhoneSpots will seek to provide enhanced local search content and geotargeted advertisers to mobile publishers that want to monetize their lookups and content and don't have direct advertiser relationships.

The customer base of CallGenie, after the acquisition, includes:

  • North America: 1-800inAcity, 1800SanDiego, CellWand, HSN / IAC, Ingenio, RHDonnelley, Say Hello, Telus, Verizon, Verizon Livesource, Yellowpages.com, Yellow Pages Group
  • Europe: Eniro, Opplysningen, Orange, Ahhaaa AB, SNT Trefzeker, Telegate, TeleGreenland, Le Numero
  • Rest of World: Batelco, Du, Etisalat, Newsphone, Omantel, Telecom Egypt

NearbyNow's Mobile Platform Attractive to Users, Advertisers

I caught up with NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap today and learned some interesting things about user behavior and the potential future direction of the company. First the most obvious: at some point in 2008 the company will establish a consumer shopping portal that offers a single entry point for local inventory search. Dunlap said this was a direct response to retailers who have store locations in more places than just malls and want those locations and that data reflected online.

Another thing we discussed is mobile usage among NearbyNow consumers.

Dunlap said that most of the company's mobile usage comes from in-mall signage prompts to text to short code "nearby." He said that in these texts people are either looking for very specific products or for sale information. But he also said that about "one in four" mobile NearbyNow consumers are using their mobile phones to show claim check numbers. If they reserve online for in-store pickup they get a confirmation code and can have that sent to their mobile phones (via text message). Typically 25% of those users show up in the store and show those codes to store clerks to claim their merchandise.

The rest of this post is on Screenwerk.

Nokia's Ovi Seeks to Integrate PC and Mobile

Nokia has launched Ovi.com, a desktop site where users can access general Internet content, share photos and purchase music. It's a kind of personal "dashboard" and somewhat out of character for the Finland-based mobile OEM, which is the largest in the world. Whether or not the Ovi site becomes an Internet destination is in a way immaterial. Rather it's important in a larger sense for what it suggests about the increasingly integrated relationship of the two screens: PC and mobile.

Medio Systems takes the position that mobile is an entirely separate animal and the leaders in mobile will be different than those who are winning on the desktop. That's both partly true and not entirely correct. The potential is certainly there for new companies and brands to emerge in mobile content and search -- and undoubtedly they will. However we believe that existing Internet sites (if they're smart) will leverage the desktop to enable users to manage content and deliver a customized mobile experience (think MyYahoo) that minimizes keystrokes and permits easier mobile content access.

Right now Yahoo! itself is missing the boat on this strategy big-time. But Nokia is quickly recognizing the strategic importance of the desktop to its future as a mobile content provider. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's CEO, was quoted by IDG News as saying "Ovi will enable people to access social networks, communities and content. It's the foundation from which we'll expand Nokia in new directions." Nokia has been particularly aggressive in expanding beyond its status as a mobile OEM, buying Navteq and Enpocket this past year.

With this desktop site Nokia will seek to compete more directly with Apple and Google, among others, as they expand their mobile domains.

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Related: Nokia rolls out "green" phone. Everybody's doing it.