As part of the Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza in Las Vegas this week, Yahoo has opted to announce the next iteration of its mobile offering, Yahoo Go. The new beta product arrives at a time when just about every other huge name in tech--Google, Apple, you name it--is making a bigger push for the handset market, and (slightly) smaller brands like Facebook and MTV have been tweaking their mobile products.
Yahoo, however, isn't about to put out a Yahoo Phone. The new Yahoo Go 3.0, rather, is a free downloadable application compatible with about 30 different handsets so far. (The company says that dozens more are on the way.) A "start page" allows Yahoo users to access a number of the company's applications, like Yahoo Mail and Flickr, as well as the requisite news-and-weather mobile features.
Yahoo has additionally launched a developer initiative to put third-party widgets into its mobile offerings. Initial launch partners include eBay, MySpace, and MTV News; these applications can be selected and installed directly from Yahoo Go's mobile "Widget Gallery."
And perhaps more importantly for Yahoo, the company hopes that the latest iteration of Go will enable it to better serve up mobile advertisements.
But, as a New York Times article notes, this isn't actually a mobile operating system, it's a piece of software that piggy-backs on a handset's existing firmware--and that could prove difficult for Yahoo. "Other companies, including cellphone makers like Nokia and Apple, and mobile software providers, like Google and Microsoft, are trying to lure third-party publishers and programmers to create services for their mobile platforms," the story pointed out.
A company eager to put its brand into the mobile market could consequently find it counterproductive to create widgets for a downloadable software package like Yahoo Mobile. The application comes pre-loaded on a number of partner handsets, but the Times article explains that U.S. cell carriers remove this prior to retail, meaning that it has to be manually downloaded. Widgets created for Yahoo Go quite likely won't have the reach of applications created for operating systems like Apple's iPhone firmware or Google's hyped Android project.
It is, ultimately, a question of ubiquity.