SINGAPORE--The mobile space will be a "really big part" of Yahoo's business in the next two to three years, according to a company executive.
David Riemer, Yahoo's vice president of marketing, told ZDNet Asia that the company is now taking its first steps in the area of mobile Internet and content. He added that the company will be rapidly building up its reach and beefing up its mobile technologies and partnerships.
"If we're truly going to be successful…we not only have to do a good job [with our] mobile [offerings], we have to be synonymous with mobile," noted Riemer, who was speaking to journalists along the sidelines of the 3GSM World Congress Asia held here this week.
David Ko, Yahoo's vice president and general manager of mobile and broadband, noted that the mobile space presents a wealth of opportunities as mobile penetration in Asia is between two and five times higher than its PC penetration. Yahoo, he added, currently has over 50 partnerships with carriers and original equipment manufacturers, and "the majority of these are in Asia".
A recent report by Informa Telecoms & Media predicted that the regional mobile subscriber base is expected to grow from 600 million in 2004 to over 1 billion by the end of 2006.
According to Reimer, Yahoo spent the last year building up a content management platform it calls "sushi", for the mobile environment. The initiative aims to make it easy to port mobile experiences into a range of mobile devices and operating systems, he explained. One such capability riding on this platform, allows users to download pictures from their Yahoo photo gallery into their mobile phones, and vice-versa.
Reimer added: "We believe we will see a lot more rich front-end experiences now that we've spent the last year working on the back end."
Of videos and widgets
A key component of the company's mobile push is Yahoo Go, which the Calif-headquartered company introduced earlier this year. Yahoo Go is a client application that integrates Yahoo Web services such as e-mail, address book and calendar, with the corresponding applications on mobile phones.
Riemer noted that the Yahoo family is "starting to refer to certain parts of Yahoo Go as widgets" and working on pushing content to mobile users.
However, he added that Yahoo is no hurry to push a video strategy on the mobile platform, despite its Web rival Google's recent acquisition of online video-sharing service YouTube.
Riemer pointed out that Yahoo does not want to be "sort of a video flea market". Instead, it is looking to "serve out the best" video content and this has implications on the search engine.
A bigger effort, he said, would be directed toward making it easy for users to apply for a Yahoo account via their mobile devices, The company will also be focusing on ways to improve its search engine technology for mobiles, making it easier for users, for example, to find and input search queries.