What is Yahoo? Marissa Mayer just laid out the company’s identity and future at Wired Business Conference. The key words she repeated over and over was “Every Day”. That’s when Yahoo wants you to use it, and it’s why it’s now developing for Google Glass, acquiring app talent like Astrid, and relaunching products like Yahoo Weather she’s sees as part of your “daily dozen” activities on mobile.
Mayer explained to Wired’s Steven Levy on stage in New York City that the company wants to help you do all the core mobile activities you do each day, including checking news, email, sports, finance, and weather. While other companies are more focused, she said “it’s okay for us to have an overall offering”.
It hasn’t worked too badly. Yahoo now has 300 million mobile users per month, and 700 million on desktop. “Yahoo has an amazing brand. I’m Midwestern and the brand is really strong there.”
The only problem with having so many apps is the switching costs. It takes time to do each of your “daily dozen” activities, but they shouldn’t interrupt your life. That’s why Mayer says Yahoo is developing for Google Glass, which could make its offering a seamless part of your day. Special apps may have to wait, though, as first and foremost she wants to make sure Yahoo’s homepage and other existing products work flawlessly on the tiny Glass screen.
That’s also one reason Yahoo was so excited to acquire news condenser Summly in March. “Summarization will be a core technology in mobile. Short summaries add value”, especially when you’re trying to keep moving, or are imbibing information through a wearable computing device like Glass.
The renewed focus on the user experience is what ties together Yahoo’s strategy. Rather than just throwing content at people, it wants to make that content enjoyable to consume. It’s not abandoning content by any means, and is planning original programming plus more licensing deals like buy Saturday Night Live clips. But it’s UX that will bring Yahoo back into the spotlight. For example, Mayer says Yahoo hopes to innovate in search by returning results pages in more creative and helpful formats than just lists of links.
Mayer took a moment to tout her new policy against working from home as critical to building enjoyable apps, and despite industry hubbub, she says it was well received internally. She mentioned that the new Yahoo Weather app that integrates Flickr photos couldn’t have been built so fast without the team in the same room. The result was a hit app, that she says got all the downloads they expected for the quarter in the first four days after launch.
Close collaboration is what will let Yahoo move fast and make products for all of us. “The moonshot for Yahoo is being on every smartphone, every tablet, every PC for every Internet user. For me the word portal is somewhat limiting.” Yahoo doesn’t want to just lead you to utility, it wants to be that utility.
[Image Credit: Wcerrudo]