The ‘Mobile-First’ Yahoo: 575M Monthly Active Users and a New Suite of Dev Tools It Hopes You’ll Use

Yahoo has doubled down on its investment in the mobile space, with CEO Marissa Mayer clearly putting her proverbial stake in the ground and declaring that her company is a “mobile-first” one. At Yahoo’s inaugural mobile developer conference (formerly known as Flurry’s Source conference), it was made known that Flurry would be the de facto platform for developers and she also took the time to reintroduce the developer ecosystem to the brand new Yahoo Developer Network.

It’s pretty well-known that Yahoo is late in the game to court developers, especially as bigger players like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple have really been stepping up their respective games over the year. So what exactly could this 20 year-old iconic Silicon Valley company do to really compete with that? Mayer was clearly not going to be dissuaded and the company put on a good show to try and convince developers that it can offer them better content & information, relevancy, and data that’s pertinent to their users.

Yesterday, I wrote that there would be some confusion about what exactly Yahoo would present at the conference. Would the company showcase its wares in order to convince advertisers that it can generate eyeballs or would it be a true appeal to developers. It turns out that it’s more of the latter than the former, but not by much. Today’s announcements show that the company wants to cater to the developers and is putting its best foot forward.

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Updated Yahoo Developer Network

Prior to today, Yahoo’s developer network was simply a hodgepodge of services with no unifying theme. Today that has changed with Flurry becoming what all mobile development will be around. And there are five new updates announced today, including:

  • Flurry Analytics + Explorer: An updated analytics user interface and a data-exploration interface that returns insights to complex queries in seconds, all without having to write any code, build queries, wait for calculations, or even implement a new SDK. TechCrunch‘s Josh Constine has rightly said that this move is a clear attack on services like Mixpanel and New Relic — mostly because this capability is available for free.
  • Flurry Pulse: This new capability allows developers to easily share app data with approved partners just by using a single SDK. Currently available by invite-only, Pulse is billed as being able to limit SDK proliferation and additional engineering work. At launch, the only approved partner is comScore, but you can be sure that more will be added later.
  • Yahoo App Publishing: Yahoo wasn’t going to get anywhere without helping developers monetize their apps. With Yahoo App Publishing, developers can now tap into high-quality native, video, and display ads utilizing Flurry, BrightRoll, and Gemini.
  • Yahoo Search in Apps: Applications can now have the search power of Yahoo built right into them, without requiring users to switch between apps, potentially lowering engagement. This is something Yahoo has done specifically with many of their apps, including its core Yahoo app, News Digest, Mail, and Aviate.
  • Yahoo App Marketing: Now that developers have tools to research, monetize, and engage users, the only other thing left involves getting the word out that an app exists. It’s interesting that in this program, mobile app install ads are not a possibility, but instead, developers can tap into native and video advertising via Yahoo’s network, Tumblr, and thousands of other mobile apps — all via Gemini.

Mayer believes that this suite of products will will be appealing to developers. After all, Yahoo has the numbers to show that it can play in the ecosystem. During her keynote, Mayer announced that mobile revenue in the company last year was $1.2 billion and there are now 575 million monthly active users on Yahoo apps. Flurry remains a significant player in the space, supporting 200,000 developers and powering 630,000 apps across 1.6 billion devices.

In addition, it’s the largest publisher on mobile, with 34 properties reaching the aforementioned 575 million monthly active users.

Here’s how Yahoo put its mobile efforts:

Yahoo is all about powering innovation, increasing retention and engagement, and generating new revenue all through an SDK.

Mayer’s gamble

Yahoo’s mobile developer conference wasn’t just any ole’ developer event. It’s a gamble by Mayer and her team that the company can generate more engagement from users who will support her strategy of wanting to show users content that’s contextually relevant to them. By that, I point your attention to TechCrunch Disrupt in 2013 where she said that she was focusing mobile products that addressed people’s daily habits, such as mail, weather, stocks, news, finance, sports, etc.

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So now that Yahoo has a platform where it can unify its tools and resources, Mayer is hoping that it’ll stick and in turn, create a broader ecosystem that could be appealing to shareholders and advertisers. Noticeably, Yahoo’s CEO stuck around long after her keynote, opting not to remain behind the scenes, like most CEOs during traditional developer conferences, but sitting amongst the crowd listening intently as product demos were going on stage.

And in case you were wondering, Yahoo’s shareholders probably thought that today’s news may be a tad bit interesting as the company’s stock closed up 1.65% to $44.37.

The start of a Yahoo app ecosystem

With integration of Yahoo technologies in more and more applications, one may speculate that the company is looking to build what may amount to being strikingly similar to Facebook Home, the failed Android launcher from the social networking company. The amount of content Yahoo can share through various apps using its technology could see the company maybe soon developing its own Android launcher — yes, that does sound far-fetched, I’ll admit, but the pieces are all there.

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Yahoo needs to find a way to tie all of these apps and technologies together to build a more cohesive strategy. What is it about the platform that separates it from others like Google, Facebook, and Apple? It’s way late in the game to really say it’s a different choice — in fact, it’s more like “why should we care?” If Yahoo is centering itself around productivity and daily habits, it will need to put more money behind its marketing to convince developers that their apps need to address these needs.

At Yahoo’s mobile developer conference, there were some great demos on stage that helped prove this thesis, but with millions of apps out there and lots of time being spent online, there’s must work still left to be done.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."