Yahoo to devs: Forget the browser; mobile is all about apps

Yahoo's reinvention as a mobile app platform continues as U.S. consumers now spend 90 percent of their mobile device time in apps, and not in the browser.

During its annual Mobile Developer Conference in New York City on Wednesday, Yahoo is touting the importance of mobile apps over browsers and providing several new tools to help programmers make them.

Using data from its Flurry analytics platform, acquired last year, Yahoo paints a picture of growing importance for mobile apps.

The company says during April to June this year, U.S. consumers spent 35 percent more time on their mobile devices than the same time period last year, now up to 3 hours and 40 minutes a day.

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Less of that extra time, however, was activity in a mobile browser. Yahoo's data suggests that mobile browsing engagement time actually dropped by 50 percent. Instead, phone owners have spent more time in mobile apps, providing the bigger opportunity for developers.

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Of course, Yahoo wants to help with that opportunity. That's why it's also updating the Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite today.

Among the several updates, Yahoo is making it easier to share posts with other Tumblr users; the social network platform it purchased in 2013 for $1.1 billion. And it's now simpler to share content with other contacts, even if they're not on Tumblr: Those will generate a seamless, one-click install process; a smart way for Yahoo to expand its Tumblr user-base.

Also new to app makers are near-real-time app analytics: Developers can get new information about their app activity every 15 seconds at no charge through Yahoo's program. And of course those analytics can be helpful for revenue: Yahoo is introducing native video ads for app publishers.

Given Yahoo's beginnings as an internet search engine and property, it may seem odd that the company is pushing forward with mobile app development. The fact is, however, it has to.

The company's falling share of search left Yahoo no choice but to reimagine itself as a modern technology company. To jumpstart the strategy, Yahoo invested billions in acquisitions such as Flurry and Tumblr, while also creating its own apps for iOS and Android. Some of these are fantastic: Yahoo Weather alone has kept people interested in it on mobile devices.

With new app tools then, Yahoo is continuing to reinvent itself as a developer platform with a strong brand name and reach.