Yahoo is reportedly preparing to launch a new publishing platform next week which will deliver personalized news content to mobile devices. The content will come from users' social media connections, like Facebook and Twitter, plus users' declared preferences, search history and other sources.
Although the service will be available on Yahoo's website, too, it has been specifically customized for mobile devices like Android smartphones, the iPhone and tablet computers.
Yahoo Jumps on News Personalization Bandwagon
According to a New York Times article citing two unnamed sources, the new platform will be revealed at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The concept sounds similar to other mobile apps that use your social networking feeds to customize your reading experience. With the popular iPad app Flipboard, for example, the magazine is built using RSS feeds for popular websites or your own Google Reader RSS subscriptions plus updates from friends on Twitter and Facebook and photos from Flickr. The Yahoo app also sounds similar to My6Sense, a smartphone news reader which builds on top of RSS, Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz feeds for personalized news filtering.
But the concept of customized mobile experiences created through social news curation isn't limited to these two applications, by any means. There's also the recently launched NewsMix, AOL's forthcoming Editions app and the Twitter-based TweetMag, to name just a few. It's a burgeoning trend not just for mobile applications, but for the consumption of news in general. As ReadWriteWeb editor Richard MacManus noted in a recent post, "the future of the newspaper is about increased personalization, interactivity, social features, more choice of niche content. It's no longer about serving up a selection of middle-of-the-road fare every day and hoping that satisfies a large chunk of the newspaper-reading population..."
What that means is that Yahoo's mobile app strategy, whatever it may be, is at least moving in the right direction while also playing up the company's core strengths. Yahoo's Web homepage has offered a personalized experience for years, allowing users to customize what content is displayed, the layout and other items. Unfortunately for Yahoo, the idea that your Web experience begins with a singular homepage or portal has faded in popularity with the advent of tabbed browsing and always-on broadband and mobile Internet connections. You don't have to launch a news portal to get caught up on the news from the Web anymore - you're always connected, always "dialed in."
Not Just an App, a Platform
The New York Times article said the mobile platform, code-named "Deadeye," has been in development for several months with a team of 50 engineers focused on the project. Yahoo also plans to work with outside publishers like Hearst to create third-party apps powered by the platform's engine.
In other words, Yahoo is not just launching one Flipboard-esque mobile competitor, it seems, but a platform which would allow publishers to build their own personalized apps, too. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz had promised "a new wave of mobile apps" to investors during Yahoo's earnings call in January, a strategy that the company hopes will help its declining revenue and audience share. It remains to be seen if that will hold true.