Yahoo! co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang was on stage today at CES and he showed a fascinating glimpse into the future of Yahoo. Yang outlined a product strategy that takes the simplicity and all-in-one portal approach that Yahoo! is famous for - and pushes it into the digital life arena by utilizing email, social networking, mobile and widgets. In Yang's words, Yahoo! aims to be the "most essential starting point for your life".
The name for this new product suite will be Life!.
Dan Farber has a great write-up of Yang's speech on ZDNet, so in this post I'll summarize that and give some analysis on Yahoo's future.
The crux of the new Life! strategy is to unite Yahoo Mail, MyYahoo, search and the Yahoo home page in a social networking context. This will be tied together using technologies like structured data, tagging and open standards like OpenID (see Marshall's post this morning on Flickr adopting OpenID).
Dan Farber reported:
"Yahoo Mail (communication services) serves as the hub, but the interface also includes third-party applications and social context. Connections are contacts, and based on frequency and volume of communications email is reordered on the strength of the connections. The page also includes updates from connections, showing what is relevant rather than just relatively static inbox."
Interesting to note here that Google is also looking to use Web email as a hub for social networking. So both Yahoo! and Google are really targeting email to get users attention and integrate social web products.
Image: Dan Farber, ZDNet
Yahoo! will include Zimbra in the Life! strategy. Zimbra is an open source mail and messaging platform, which became famous in the web 2.0 world for its mashups ability. It was acquired last year by Yahoo; and so it's exciting to know that Zimbra will be utilized more fully in Yahoo's product range.
Yahoo Go 3.0 - Widgets Galore
Finally, Yang showed off the new version of its Yahoo Go mobile platform. Labeled Yahoo Go 3.0, it will introduce widgets for things like email and Flickr, enabling those Y! products to be better utilized on mobile phones. Go will also become an open platform for third party widget developers - see our coverage of this last night. As Marshall wrote, unlike Google's Android OS, the Yahoo! Go platform will work on more than 250 mobile devices that Go already works on.
Yahoo has partnered with the likes of eBay, Viacom and News Corp on widgets for Go. Yahoo is also working with LG Electronics and other phone vendors to make widgets run natively on phones.
From the user side, a new widgets gallery called MySnippets will give users feeds and services that can be embedded in Yahoo pages. A beta version of 3.0 will be available later today by directing your phones browser to http://beta.m.yahoo.com
It looks like Yahoo is finally beginning to tie together its many 'best of breed' web 2.0 products (Flickr, Zimbra, Mail, Go) into an integrated product offering. Mobile has been an area of development at Yahoo for some time - they appear to be doing more work than Google and Microsoft in the mobile portal / social networking arena, and with Go 3.0 it might crack the mainstream in a big way. Yahoo has also been a leader in terms of open standards - see our coverage of Ian Rogers about the Media Web for one example.
Time will tell whether these moves by Yahoo will get them out of the funk they fell into during 2007, but Yang's speech at CES had many encouraging signs.