One of many changes at Yahoo (YHOO) since Carol Bartz took over as CEO: Its mobile unit is working closer with other business units as the company makes mobile a bigger priority than it was under Jerry Yang.
We hear that under Jerry and former mobile boss Marco Boerries, the mobile unit worked more like an isolated startup. Now, under Carol and new mobile boss David Ko, the mobile team is working more closely with product teams as mobile becomes a stronger focal area for Yahoo.
The first new products will roll out soon:
- Yahoo’s new mobile homepage: Accessible on phones with HTML-capable Web browsers, ranging from Apple iPhones and RIM BlackBerry devices to other, less-smart phones — will launch at the end of this month. Like Yahoo’s Web portal, its mobile portal is designed as a start page, and will hook into third-party email services including Google’s GMail. It includes banner ads and sponsored search, brokered by Yahoo.
- Yahoo’s new iPhone app: Essentially an app version of its mobile homepage, with some extra features — will launch early next month. (Not on its way, much to our dismay — a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball stat-tracker app.)
- Yahoo’s new Java-based smartphone app: Including voice search — for Symbian, RIM, Google Android, and other Java-capable smartphones, will launch in May.
Yahoo is smart to invest more in mobile — where the Web is still in its infancy — now. Especially in the U.S., where Google is off to a quick 60%-to-30% lead over Yahoo in mobile search brand reach, according to Bernstein’s Jeff Lindsay.
Why bother? Beyond the search/portal/platform land grab, analysts still have high hopes that mobile advertising will someday become a big market. Lindsay predicts it will become a $7.2 billion market worldwide by 2012, up from $700 million last year.
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