Can Yahoo find mobile browser success?
Earlier this week, we asked, Can search save Yahoo?” Little did we know, the company was just about to launch its most significant search offering in quite some time. That product would be Yahoo Axis, which is one part standalone mobile browser and one part desktop browser add-on.
Search And Axis
Shashi Seth, SVP, Connections at Yahoo is quoted as saying, “Our search strategy is predicated on two core beliefs—one, that people want answers, not links and two, that consumer-facing search is ripe for innovative disruption, With Axis, we have re-defined and re-architected the search and browse experience from the ground up.”
On Yahoo’s Yodel Anecdotal blog, Regan Clark writes, “Yahoo! Axis comes equipped with handy features that unify searching and browsing. For example, our one-step search lets you preview and interact with visual search results without ever leaving the page you’re on. It’s the end of the back button! And our instant answers show the information you want as you type common searches like finding movie times, sports scores, stock prices and more.”
Is Mobile The Key?
While it may have a desktop browse add-on, mobile is clearly the battlefield for Axis.
“We live in a ‘mobile first’ world these days,” says Scott Fish on Yahoo’s Mobile blog. “What does that mean exactly? Well it means that apps and websites should be designed and tailor-fitted with experiences optimized for these smaller, mobile screens. Not only do the experiences need to fit the device you’re using, your data and content need to come with you, wherever you go.”
“If you’re like me you have two computers, a phone, and a tablet and constantly switch devices throughout the day,” Fish adds. “How many times do you start something on your tablet at home but have to leave to catch the train or meet a friend?, Today, when we move from device to device, we have to start over, whether that’s doing the same search again or trying to find that article you were halfway through reading. Wouldn’t it be nice if our devices recognized us when we pick them up so we can literally pick up where we left off?”
I’ve now messed around with it on the iPad, the iPhone 4S and on the desktop with Chrome. It’s a perfectly functional browser, and dare I say even an improvement over Safari on the iOS devices. As a Chrome extension, however, I found it to be slow, intrusive and unhelpful.
On iOS, you get the mobile version, and it’s not an issue.
It’s the syncing feature that Yahoo is playing up, which is probably more where the add-on can prove useful. If you want to sync your experience across devices. It’s cool in concept, but as I found with Google’s Chrome To Phone feature, it’s really not something I find that I need to do very often.
Yahoo does tout the “one customized homepage across all your devices,” so I guess there’s that. If Chrome comes to iOS (which rumors suggest that it will), I’d imagine there will be similar functionality.
Yahoo is said to be developing Axis for Android, in addition to iOS.
It just so happens that mobile is exactly where Yahoo may have a chance to actually compete in the browser market (and by extension of that, perhaps the search market, if Axis proves successful). Chrome isn’t on iOS yet, and neither are Firefox or IE (though Opera is). For iPhone and iPad, it’s basically competing with Apple’s own Safari, which really isn’t much of a bells-and-whistles browser. Interestingly enough, according to a CNET article, Apple really isn’t too focused on improving Safari either.
Chrome and Firefox are both in beta for Android. You have to have Android 4.0 or higher to even try Chrome. That leaves a lot of Android users out.
One has to wonder if the Axis launch will cause Google to speed up the Chrome-to-mobile process.
But for right now, Yahoo has a real chance to gain some significant market share here, on iOS – most notably the iPad. found that the share of website visits from tablets grew about 10 times faster than the rate of smartphones in a two-year period. Adobe tells us 80% of that traffic was iPad traffic.
About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.