Facebook Home is slated for release this week, and blogs are abuzz with news that a pre-release version has leaked ahead of the official April 12 launch. It’s reportedly buggy, so better to wait.
Despite some early indications that Home may face an uphill climb, it could prove to be popular with die-hard Facebook users. We’ll soon see. But, last week’s frenzy and coverage surrounding Home got me thinking about another company with significant mobile aspirations: Yahoo.
Let me qualify what I’m about to say. I’m not a developer or engineer, so I can’t assess the technical challenges or feasibility of what I’m about to suggest. But, after sitting through Facebook’s Home announcement last week, I thought, “Can’t Yahoo also do something like this?”
It seemed to me that Facebook created something of a template or way forward for third parties to build customized, branded experiences on top of Android — including mobile operators and selected publishers.
Admittedly, Facebook may be in a unique position because of the role it plays in many people’s lives and the fact that it’s a communication platform in ways that Yahoo and others are not. And, Facebook did a great job with the design on Home.
But, Yahoo is a company — as CEO Marissa Mayer often reminds us — that is used and aspires to be used as part of people’s daily routines: homepage, news, mail, sports, finance, weather and so on. It thus seems to me there’s a fit between these “daily habits” and a potential “Yahoo Home” strategy.
If it were to precisely mimic Facebook’s “immersive” home screen, Yahoo could use Flickr images, for example. Alternatively, it could allow people to customize their home and lock screens with different categories of Yahoo content. Regardless, Yahoo may be in a position to pull something like Home off in a way that few others beyond Google or Facebook could.
Of course, if Yahoo were to try and duplicate Facebook’s strategy on Android, it would take a beating from journalists and bloggers who would probably accuse the company of being out of ideas or derivative. But, it might be worth a shot, provided Yahoo didn’t exactly copy Facebook’s approach.
At one point, former Yahoo Mobile boss Marco Boerries hinted that Yahoo might try and develop its own branded experience or even handset on Android. However, he was ousted during the Carol Bartz era.
What do you think of this idea and whether Yahoo could pull it off?