LONDON: Yahoo! is setting its sights on the growth of wearables and other mobile devices as the internet star of the last dotcom boom tries to transform itself into a world of apps.
Adam Cahan, senior vice-president of Yahoo! mobile, said wearable devices such as the Apple Watch present a big opportunity for Yahoo! in 2015, both as new homes for existing apps and to create new user experiences.
Mr Cahan said he expected Yahoo! and the wider industry to benefit from “huge amounts of future growth”, including an acceleration in the adoption of mobile devices including wearables and the so-called internet of things, where ordinary household appliances are hooked up to the internet.
“We’re talking about a platform that is still growing by leaps and bounds – five times as many devices in front of us – and the categories of devices are undergoing a huge evolution,” he said. “I really try to look at what are the sensors on these new devices, as they enable us to reimagine experiences.”
Yahoo! was part of Apple’s launch of the Watch, which is due out next year, developing a version of its Yahoo! News Digest product for the wrist-sized screen. News Digest, which came out of its acquisition of Summly from British teenager Nick D’Aloisio, automatically summarises the daily news and gives links to context.
Mr Cahan believed that Apple was “on to a hit” and he was “very excited about consumer adoption” and the potential for some other Yahoo! apps to make it on to users’ wrists.
However, he said Yahoo! was not restricting itself to one wearables maker and did not rule out creating its own wearable in what would be a rare foray into the hardware business.
He said software developers were often “somewhat reluctant to join the hardware game” but he could “never say never” as sometimes they desire a key feature that hardware makers had left out.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s chief executive brought in from Google in 2012 to lead a turnaround, has described being shocked at how few software engineers worked on mobile products, as the company still focused on the traditional desktop website.
She appointed Mr Cahan to lead mobile products and he has increased the mobile user base from 150 million monthly users to more than 550 million. Last quarter, Yahoo! generated more than $US700 million ($860 million) in revenue from mobile products on a generally accepted accounting principles basis, 100 per cent growth year on year.
“We started with no team, no products, no users and no revenue and created the whole revolution internally,” Mr Cahan said.