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Yahoo revamps mobile group for profitability plan

Yahoo's group for mobile phones has new leadership--David Ko--and its work is the centerpiece of the Connected Life division's 2009 profitability plan.

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Stephen Shankland
2 min read

Yahoo is under financial pressure this year, but it's shaking up management of its mobile phone group as part of a plan to make its phone and TV division profitable next year.

The company on Monday named David Ko to be senior vice president of the mobile group, which handles software, advertising, and partnerships in the mobile phone market. He reports to Marco Boerries, executive vice president of the Connected Life division, which is trying to extend Yahoo's business to mobile phones and Internet-connected TV sets.

David Ko
David Ko Yahoo

"I am very happy to introduce today Connected Life v3.0, which is designed to take our leadership in mobile to the next level," Boerries said in a memo about the changes. Version 2.0 was about laying foundations with technology development and distribution deals, but 3.0 will be about money.

And it will be the phone group that's carries the profit burden, he added: the TV effort is still in an earlier development and distribution stage so far.

"Our goal is to become a contributor to Yahoo's bottom line in 2009," Boerries said. In other words, to make Yahoo overall more profitable, not less.

That mobile revenue comes from text and display ads, and partnerships, Ko said in an interview. Though Ko sees competition from Google and others, he's confident of Yahoo's position in mobile Internet services: "We are absolutely leading in this."

Google is aggressively expanding into the mobile market, though, with advertising, software, the Android operating system, and services. And the threat is real: earlier today, Cowen and Co. analysts said Google Maps will help lead it to dominance in mobile search.

The phone group will carry the Connected Life profit burden initially, Ko added: the TV work is still in an earlier development and distribution stage so far.

Ko replaces Steve Boom, who "after 10 years at Yahoo has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities," Boerries said. A Yahoo spokeswoman said Boom was leaving voluntarily. Ko was general manager of Yahoo's mobile work in Asia, a post now held by Matthias Kunze.

Also leaving Yahoo are Geraldine Wilson, who handled Connected Life business operations in Europe--her work included ousting Google to become T-Mobile's preferred search mobile search provider--and Bruce Stewart, who worked on business development in the United States.