Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)
Yahoo cans BlackBerry app to focus on iPhone, browser softwareIn the latest sign that the iPhone is emerging as the platform of choice for companies big and small, Yahoo on Wednesday will reportedly cease work on its Mobile app for BlackBerry and other smartphones to concentrate its resources on iPhone and browser-centric development.
Word of the move was picked up by TechCrunch after developers applying to work on the application for Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets received an email response from the search giant stating that "Yahoo has decided to cease development" of the app on May 20th.
Going forward, Yahoo will reportedly restructure its Yahoo! Mobile development team to focus on two core platforms, the iPhone, and for every other mobile handset, the browser. Other applications for BlackBerry handsets independent of the Mobile app will reportedly remain in development.
"We are reprioritizing some products to help us better deliver the best possible experiences to consumers on mobile," the company said in the email to applications. "To streamline our services, we will not develop Yahoo! Mobile for smartphones to focus our efforts on mobilizing Yahoo!, improving Yahoo! Mobile for web and Yahoo! Mobile for iPhone as well as developing new and engaging experiences for consumers, partners and advertisers."
Yahoo in February overhauled its Mobile service, rebranding and repackaging some of its assets and phasing out others. The new version was announced as a browser-based service for more than 300 mobile handsets in April but presented in a unique application for iPhone (Free, App Store) users at the same time.
Since then, Yahoo has issued at least one update to the iPhone app, which ranks No. 80 on the App Store's list of Top 100 free apps and No. 1 overall in the News category. Among its features are location-based searches, personalized news and sports, email access, an RSS reader, and tie-ins to social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, and others.
Separately, Yahoo also maintains a Yahoo! Messenger application (Free, App Store) for the iPhone as well as Inquisitor (Free, App Store), a simple web search and news application.
As TechCrunch points out, Yahoo's move to abandon development of its Mobile app for BlackBerry and other smartphones is somewhat of an about-face for the internet company, further underscoring the impact the iPhone has had on the market in just a matter of months.
Just last March, the publication asked Yahoo! Mobile marking chief Adam Taggart whether the company was positioning its future mobile developments as individual or browser-based applications.
"We are embracing both, apps and browser. We as Yahoo are all about ubiquity," Taggart said. "We have a renewed appreciation for the browser because they are getting materially better, but you can always do more with an app on your phone. In the immediate time frame you will see a lot more standalone vertical apps coming out of Yahoo."
At the time, he explained that Mobile applications under development for BlackBerries and other smartphones — the ones his firm just axed — were meant to assuage the appetites of consumers with those devices aspiring for an iPhone like experience.
"The smartphone app is a way to turn your smartphone into an iPhone at no additional cost, if you are envying the iPhone," he said.
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