Zune + Yahoo! = Y!Phone

Zune + Yahoo! = Y!Phone

Summary: Conceptual Rendering by Brandon PerlowOver the last few months I’ve been thinking about how Yahoo! might be able to leverage its assets in order to better compete with Google.


Conceptual Rendering by Brandon Perlow
Over the last few months I’ve been thinking about how Yahoo! might be able to leverage its assets in order to better compete with Google. In another publication, I recently discussed the “What if” scenarios if Yahoo! were somehow able to escape a Microsoft acquisition, and defy the iron grip of Google’s popular web API’s and viral adoption of its competing services by joining forces with a major mobile handset vendor – such as a Motorola or a Nokia, and create a truly Open Source smart phone that leveraged the power of Yahoo’s assets, such as Flickr, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Mail.

Such a device, with a completely open API and open OS, and one that was highly subsidized by mobile telecommunications carriers, could seriously challenge iPhone and the BlackBerry for mobile smart phone device dominance, under the right economic conditions and successfully executed marketing campaign.

But as it becomes increasingly inevitable that a Microsoft and Yahoo! merger is going to occur – this despite the most recent rumblings of a possible AOL/Yahoo! merger or Google acting as an ad partner spoiler for the final MicroHoo consummation – I think it will be highly unlikely that I’ll ever get to see my dream Open Source iPhone and BlackBerry killer anytime soon, Android devices notwithstanding.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

That being said, I would be willing to be satisfied by the next best thing, a Windows Media-Powered “Y!Phone” that incorporated the features of the Zune portable media player, Wi-Fi connectivity and integration with all the Yahoo! and MSN/Microsoft online assets, built-in camera, integrated slide-out keyboard and HSDPA 3G data service with secure corporate email connectivity and ability to run third party Windows Mobile applications. This, at a corporate volume price point of less than $300 with carrier incentives, could be the device that everyone truly wants.

Of course, cheap 3G Windows Mobile devices have been around for some time now, such as the Samsung Blackjack, Palm Treo 700W and the Motorola Q Phone. And while the Blackjack and devices like it are pretty slick, they haven’t been able to capture the mass sex appeal of either the iPhone or the corporate workhorse mobile messaging market of the Blackberry. Something else needs to happen besides just cramming all of the services of Yahoo + MSN on a Windows Mobile device before people start thinking twice about tossing out their precious iPhones and Crackberries, myself included.

For starters, we need a great industrial design. More than anything else, iPhone and iPods are successful because of their sex appeal, there’s no doubt about that. And besides being physically attractive, the iPhone has a great interface, probably the best out of any consumer device out there on the market today. Windows Mobile needs a complete UI re-design, and Microsoft needs to dump the concept that our cell phones need to look and act just like our desktop OSes. I’ve had a number of Windows Mobile devices in the past -- such as the various HTC T-Mobile/O2 XDA/MDA units from different carriers with slide-out keyboards -- and while I could see their potential and thought the hardware design was good, I could never truly exploit them because the OS became too aggravating to work with. It comes as no surprise to me that HTC is now working with Microsoft's arch-enemy, Google, to release an Android-based device, code-named "Dream", that is expected to be released in late 2008. Now, a great Windows Mobile interface combined with sexy Silverlight-based Yahoo and MSN content? We could have a winner.

Also See: "How About an XPhone?"

An excellent industrial design and attractive user interface, plus Zune’s player capabilities might make prospective iPhone customers think twice, particularly if the device was significantly cheaper. However, with Google/Android and RIM/Blackberry both working on competing next generation devices, Microsoft needs to head the two of these off at the pass.

One of the biggest complaints of late about the BlackBerry is the single NOC point of failure that has caused at least two lengthy service disruptions in the last two years. The backlash to this has been so severe that some seasoned corporate travelers have now started bringing a second mobile device with them to swap SIM cards so they can get corporate email access if their BlackBerry service goes down.

So if Microsoft can partner with a respected, reliable enterprise hosting company and go with a distributed data center/NOC approach, combined with their patented Exchange replication technology, and permit easier, cheaper, and more reliable secure corporate mail integration with their integrated Mobile Outlook client (as well as no-brainer Hotmail, GMail and Yahoo Mail setup for our personal accounts) the frequent-flying, mass thumb-wheeling and thumb-balling orgies in airline Presidents Clubs and airport lounges across America might very well switch to Y!Phones instead instead of their precious RIM's.

Do You want to Y!Phone? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: BlackBerry, iPhone, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Mobility, Windows, Social Enterprise


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Y! Phone

    Needs a single button like a Mac or a keyboard.
  • WOW!! This Is Innovation!!

    I joked about this a year ago..sadly it might come true....

    Are they going to use the "Be a part of the social" tag line again?

    We have Zune User's Anonymous meetings in my town, it's the only way they can get together to be a part of the social and share songs. All 4 of them. ;).
    • Doesn't have to be innovative

      MS didn't earn their fortune through innovation, they earned it by making previously available products more available to the masses. In this case, simply lowering the price (even by 10%) and making it available to all phone carriers (with support) would accomplish that.
      Michael Kelly
      • No It Won't......

        Look at Zune..still hasn't even dented IPod's share.

        You think the Zune Phone will?

        Not even close.
        • Being closed minded about the possibilities does not mean it can't happen!

          Just because your vision can't see something does not mean everyone elses glasses are equality dirty.
        • Yes, and the iPod Touch hasn't dented

          the earlier iPod marketshare. It sounds to me as thoough you are implying that Apple has lost it's innovation and cult status.

          Or could it be suffering the same issue that the Zune is having, that being that no one discards a perfectly good iPod just to get the latest and greatest.
          • The iPod Touch is an iPod too, Einstein ;-) [NT]

          • Did I actually READ "great Windows Mobile interface " NOT as a joke?

            Windoze Mobile crashes every time you LOOK at it funny - and forget trusting it to take any important calls without it seizing up in mid-conversation!

            No, it doesn't HAVE to be "innovative" - but it DOES have to be reliable. And [i][b]there[/i][/b] at least, Windows Mobile has been judged - and found wanting....
          • Windows =/= Windoze

            and anyone who refers to it that way has immediately lost quite a bit of credibility to me. I don't OSX "Oh Shit Ten". I don't call Linux stupid names either. I don't care what you argue, but referring to something with a derogatory and un-clever homonym equates to an ad hominin attack to me.
          • Let me re-state the previous argument ...

            I don't care if the phone's OS is all that innovative. I don't
            care all that much about half the features most people claim
            to "need" in a [b][i]telephone![/i][/b], but I agree the phone -
            and the OS running it - must be reliable. The minute I have
            to pay attention to the OS, the minute it draws attention to
            itself, that's when my satisfaction level starts to drop.
            Anything less than [b]Rock Solid[/b] is less than acceptable
            to me. And my standards are, admittedly, not particularly
          • You are kidding, right?

            Or did the point fly that far over your head?

            The fact that both the Zune and Touch are relativelly newer models to the market place, the fact that many are not rushing out to purchase the Zune to replace their older iPods,
            could be the same reason why not many are running out to buy the iPod Touch to replace their older iPods.

            The fact that Zune "has not dented" the previous iPod marketshare may not be so much a reflection on the Zune itself, but rather the current saturation of the market place of older iPods, otherwise iPod Touches would be selling like nobody's business, instead of the stoies that have repeatedly mentioned that sales are a bit flat.

            (I typed slow as I was not sure you could read that fast ;) )
          • Or, as someone who drank the M$ Kool-Aid already

            maybe YOU need to realize a lot of us actually own iPod Touches, and like them better than we would have liked iPhones running on AT&T!
      • Exactly.

        Simply having a phone like that which could integrate with Exchange for unified messaging would make it desirable to some corporate clients.
  • RE: Zune Yahoo! = Y!Phone

    I have a zune and love it but none of Yahoo's offerings intrest me. I use many of Google's offerings like search, apps, gmail, gtalk... I can't wait for Android! Gmail and other apps have not been offered mainstream much and I think once people see how well they do things, and that they work the "right way" The following is going to grow! I have had Yahoo music for a long time and really like it but the software they write for it is garbage.
    • How's that social going?

      I bet it's fun to walk around for days looking for someone that has songs to share.
      • Uh....

        [i]I bet it's fun to walk around for days looking for someone that has songs to share.[/i]

        Yeah, see, sharing is a FEATURE on the Zune. It's not prerequisite to actually using one.

        Your argument is as stupid as someone asking "How's that 3G network working out on the iPhone?"
        Hallowed are the Ori
        • yeah.... but...

          Microsoft touts it as being the best featur EVER, and that its on the joys of owning a Zune, and why nobody should have an iPod. The above poster was making a pun on Microsofts marketing.
          • Dunno...

            [i]Microsoft touts it as being the best featur EVER, and that its on the joys of owning a Zune, and why nobody should have an iPod.[/i]

            Maybe, I don't know. I don't pay much attention to marketing, because well, thanks to Spammers I have come to dislike marketing in all forms, even the ones I at one point did not mind.
            Hallowed are the Ori
          • But your spam doesn't make the concept of marketing invalid...

            in fact, judging by all the bloody spam out there even that
            bottom-feeding marketing technique must be working.

            Point re Zune is that the social networking nature of the
            Zune WAS a major point about that product that indeed
            differntiated it from the iPod (perhaps the only way it
            differentiated from the iPod). But MS and the labels
            hobbled it with stupid DRM limitations (the whole three-
            play or three-day limit)... and of course the requirement
            that Microsoft demands that the Zune userbase be large
            enough for this unique feature to be EVEN VALID. Like,
            THAT notion alone is pretty delusional! "Lok a the numbers
            of the iPod!", MS says to itself, "We want that, and because
            we want it we'll get it and all these Zune users all over the
            place can have their own social networks and sam,ple each
            others music! We'll be RICH(er)!!"

            Yeah. Right. What hubris. What a rediculous conciet on
            their part.

            What MS should have done is INNOVATE ahead of Apple by
            having downloadable music store on the Zune via WiFi
            BEFORE Apple had it! Of course, there's more they could
            have done such as touch interface but I don't blame them
            for that one. But a store in your pocket? They would have
            scooped Apple on that one.

            As things are, however, they went with this smoke-induced
            dream of "the social"... a feature neutered by the
            platform's obscurity.
  • I have other motives

    I'm just glad Jason--or anyone for that matter--is thinking about Windows Mobile. If Microsoft can use Yahoo to make Windows Mobile less clunky and more relevant with the user interface Microhoo as a deal would be worth it to me as a consumer.
    Larry Dignan