Yahoo intros new iPhone and BlackBerry apps

Internet company is focusing more on developing specific applications for devices, such as the iPhone, as it shifts its mobile strategy.

Yahoo announced three new mobile applications Tuesday as the company continues to focus more on developing specific applications for the iPhone and other select smartphones like the BlackBerry.

The most widely publicized application to be announced Tuesday is Flickr for Mobile . This application is only available for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. It's free from the iTunes App Store. And it allows users to upload, share, and tag photos and videos. Flickr already has a browser-based mobile app at M.flickr.com.

The official Flickr app for iPhone and iPod Touch offers search, browse, and upload features.

Yahoo also created two new mobile applications for a few BlackBerry models.

Yahoo Finance for Mobile works on the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the BlackBerry Bold, Tour and 8900 series. This free application allows users to track companies, market indices, and news. It also lets users drill down into specific companies for more data. Yahoo already has a browser-based version of the application.

Yahoo also announced Yahoo Fantasy Football for Mobile. This application is available for the iPhone/iPod Touch and the BlackBerry Bold, Tour and 8900 series. Using this application, football fans can manage their teams from their phones, add and drop players, view match-ups and player stats, and get news and expert advice.

These new applications, which are specifically designed for the iPhone and a handful of BlackBerry devices, are part of the company's latest strategy to address the mobile market. Earlier this year, Yahoo shifted its mobile strategy to focus more on developing separate and distinct applications instead of creating services that fell into an all-encompassing Yahoo application.

"Before we had a one-size-fits-all approach to the application market," said Sandeep Gupta, senior director of mobile applications for Yahoo. "But the iPhone changed how consumers accessed applications. Now, they want to search for and download point applications. And we thought it was better for us to fit into this world."

Yahoo's primary goal with the strategy shift is to bring Yahoo's PC-based services to mobile phones. And in order to do this, Yahoo executives said they needed to develop and distribute applications like other developers, which meant adopting the iPhone model.

To execute this strategy, Yahoo is taking a two-pronged approach. It is offering browser-based applications for its more general properties, such as travel, personals, or some of its entertainment sites. But for more frequently visited sites, such as Flickr and Finance, Yahoo is creating native applications.

"Yahoo has a huge set of properties that we want to bring to all mobile users," Gupta said. "But we can't have customized application experiences for all of them. It's too much work. So we have created a broad experience for a whole host of sites. And we're creating a more customized app experience with a richer experience for certain vertical sites."

In February, the company announced the newly revamped Yahoo Mobile service, which combines all the organizational elements of Yahoo OneSearch, OnePlace, and OneConnect together in a single application. The redesigned service is a scrollable mashup of search, news, e-mail, social networking, finance, weather, sports scores, and other RSS feeds.

The company decided to offer the service to more than 400 mobile devices as a browser-based application. But it also built a version specifically for the iPhone. The app is free to download and is available on Apple's iTunes App Store.

Now, Yahoo has created three other native applications that have been customized for specific devices. Initially, these applications are only available on the iPhone and certain BlackBerry devices. The reason for this is simple. The iPhone and the BlackBerry currently have the most interactive mobile users, Gupta said. But he added that the company will eventually tailor these same applications for other smartphones, such as the Palm Pre and Google's Android phones.

"We're not waiting for these other devices to get popular," he said. "Work is going on. But it's a matter of priorities. There is a lot of investment needed to build these applications. And we have prioritized which devices have the most interactive users."

 

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