Yahoo has been busy rolling out new features---new home page, revamped My Yahoo, Mail and Messenger overhauls---that come courtesy of its infrastructure revamp a few years in the making.
Among the most promising efforts by Yahoo are its homepage applications. Open to all third parties and self serve for about two weeks or so, Yahoo is allowing anyone to develop apps that can gain traffic from the home page. Why wouldn't third parties give Yahoo a whirl?
However, Yahoo is likely to run into a problem pretty quickly. It's going to have too many apps to navigate. Enter an app marketplace---actually more like a browsing mall---from Yahoo. Cody Simms, senior director of product management for Yahoo Open Strategy, acknowledged the potential navigation problem and said there will be better discovery tools coming later this year or early 2010.
Simms told me Yahoo's plan is to see how people use the Yahoo home page apps, interact with them and then improve navigation and discovery when it has a little more data---not to mention apps.
Indeed, Carrie Cronkey, director of business development and strategy at Mint, said that the early results from the Yahoo App effort have been promising. It's too early to hand out any definitive data, but Cronkey said when Yahoo promoted the Budget by Mint app traffic spiked. However, the traffic hit a plateau once Yahoo rolled out the Mint app. Among Cronkey's key points:
- Yahoo Apps can give a third party recurring traffic;
- The apps can be a bit hard to navigate so the traffic pop really depends on where Yahoo decides to point its promotions;
- The interaction with the Mint app has been strong so far;
- Cronkey attributes that interaction with the trust users have in Yahoo;
- MyYahoo can give a third party a lot of interaction via Yahoo.
Initially, Yahoo's app focus has revolved around the home page and MyYahoo, but I rarely visit either page. For instance, my Yahoo home page is Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Fantasy Sports. I suggested that the app bar found on the front page should follow me throughout Yahoo. Double bonus if it's context specific. Perhaps the app bar could move Mint up when I'm on Yahoo Finance and CBS Sports up when I'm setting my fantasy football lineup.
Simms told me that Yahoo is exploring those options, specifically the ability to put the app bar on multiple properties. For now, users will be able to carry their apps around via the Yahoo toolbar. I'm not a huge toolbar fan, but if I could easily access Facebook and Twitter that way I could change my mind.
Overall, Yahoo's open vision is really starting to take shape following years of talk and behind the scenes infrastructure fixes. Yahoo's app effort is a solid start and could turn into something big.