Why Yahoo Just Put Out A New Web Browser For iOS

Yahoo Axis Screenshot

Yahoo recently introduced a mobile web browser called Axis for iOS, as well as plug-ins for desktop browsers, that integrates Yahoo Search directly into the user’s experience.Despite the turmoil at Yahoo, Axis has been praised by reviewers as an innovative contribution to mobile browsing.

Yahoo held a call yesterday to discuss Axis and broader mobile browser trends. Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter took notes on the event. We have summarized some of the key points and added our own commentary. 

Rationale. Yahoo is getting smoked in search, and is especially weak in mobile. Google’s mobile search market share is reportedly ~90 per cent (and may be even closer to 100).

However, according to Yahoo, the economics for third-party browsers are favourable on iOS. Third party browsers do not have revenue sharing agreement with Apple, which means they do not pay TAC on any associated search advertising revenue. This is why Google is reportedly developing a Chrome browser for iOS even though Google is already the default search on Safari.

While it’s not certain if this arrangement will last forever, Shashi Seth, SVP of Yahoo Connections, believes that Apple is open to third-party browsers on iOS

Prospects. Axis is definitely different, but it is not clear that there is any mass disaffection with Google’s text- and link-based mobile search. From our experience with Axis, it is less intuitive than existing options, but that may be a lack of familiarity.

The bigger question is whether anyone loves Yahoo Search enough to open up Axis instead of just using their default browser.

We doubt it: based on ComScore statistics for the desktop, Yahoo’s U.S. search market share has been falling for months, while Bing and Google have been rising (see chart below). There’s little reason to think the situation is any different on mobile.

search market share April 2012

Photo: ComScore

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