Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang: The Mobile Web Needs Openness - InformationWeek

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1/7/2008
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Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang: The Mobile Web Needs Openness

Yahoo's differentiator, according to its founder, is an XML-based development platform the company is creating for later this year.

Yahoo is going more mobile than ever. The company announced a new version of its mobile client application, Yahoo Go 3.0, and a new developer platform for mobile applications at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.

"We really think there's a time and a window where we still have huge fragmentation with devices and carriers," Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang said in a brief interview with InformationWeek at CES in Las Vegas. "Over time there will be more ubiquity, but today you can't publish something in one place and distribute it on mobile like you can on the Web, and that's what's at stake."

If Yahoo is to differentiate itself and get its platform to the masses in huge numbers, it faces a stiff challenge. The company joins an increasingly crowded field of "mobile platform" entrants that includes Microsoft, Google, Palm, and Research In Motion.

Building mobile apps that look and work well has long been a challenge for developers. Yahoo's differentiator, Yang asserted, is the development platform the company is creating. The platform includes a simple XML-based programming language, and Yahoo will soon offer a new software development toolkit.

Yahoo also announced a new version of its Yahoo Go client application that has a completely redesigned user interface. The user interface, which Yang called the "carousel" interface, allows users to browse left and right through a series of Yahoo and other mobile applets that run inside Go.

"Everybody who's seen the carousel thinks it's the way to go," Yang said. "It's really simple."

Among the first third-party applets running on Yahoo's Go platform are apps from eBay, Viacom, and MTV News, all announced at CES. Yahoo hopes others will soon get in on the party, but it's also developing its own new applications for mobile, including a newly redesigned mobile homepage that acts much like the portal Yahoo has become on the Web, complete with an open widget system.

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