Friday, January 06, 2006

Forrester: Yahoo! Go shows how to connect the Internet to devices

Forrester search analyst Charlene Li blogs about the new Yahoo! Go suite, which consists of Yahoo! Go Mobile, Yahoo! Go TV, and Yahoo! Go Desktop. Li believes it's "significant because Yahoo! shows how a traditional Internet content and service provider can link to devices like phones and TVs."

Below are Li's overview and highlights for the mobile-related aspects:

  • The Yahoo! Go concept: Anything that you can access on Yahoo! through your browser will also be available on your desktop (outside of your browser), on your phone, and on your TV.
  • Yahoo! Go Mobile is a really nice connection between your phone and your Yahoo service. Snap a photo and have it appear on Yahoo! Photos (Finally! An easy way to get photos off of my camera phone). A phone number you enter on Yahoo! Addresses shows up on your phone’s address book. I personally LOVE this idea of a universal contact list, especially as I am prone to losing my cell phone!
In comparing Yahoo's CES announcements to Google's, Li opines that:
Yahoo!’s Go announcements have a strong connection to consumer electronics and will have a much bigger impact over time than either Google Video or Google Pack. This is because it sets off a race among phone and device makers to tap into the Yahoo!’s large user base. But it’s also worrying because the investment that service providers have made in their own services is now to tie in users becomes less important if the user can take their services with them from phone to phone, provider to provider. I believe that device manufacturers will be more willing than their provider counterparts to let users choose between Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google mobile solutions – or mix and match as they please.
She also observes that:
Yahoo!’s promise to keep the platform open will be closely watched. At the conclusion of his speech, Terry Semel said “Personally, I believe that walled gardens are a thing of the past.” But what Yahoo! is doing is in many ways constructing a different kind of walled garden, albeit, one where Yahoo! serves as the gateway to the world of Internet content. For example, Yahoo! Go Mobile will allows users to access non-Yahoo! email accounts, as long as they are POP enabled. But this has to be set up via Yahoo! Mail and in this case, through Yahoo!’s paid Mail Plus service.
The recent Motorola/Google and Yahoo announcements demonstrate the threat to network operators of consumers circumventing the data network. As I noted in my 2006 predictions, I believe high-speed wireless data access will become a commodity just like broadband to the home. The network operators might get marginalized as only providers of virtual pipes if they don't watch out.

These announcements also got me thinking that Google or Yahoo could go even one step further and start selling a branded mobile device like the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. They could partner with an ODM, like HTC, to develop a nano-esque wireless Internet device and start selling it at a mass-market price point for less than $99. Imagine all the possibilities if they bundle it with all their mobile goodies and maybe even add a VoIP client. If it was small, cost-effective, convenient and easy to use, I might even get off the converged device bandwagon to get one....