Commentary

Yahoo's Mobile Future 'Unclear'

Yahoo Mobile

Digesting Morgan Stanley's 424-page Mobile Internet Report wouldn't be a simple task for anyone, but Yahoo may find it especially rough going. The Internet giant is listed among companies whose positioning for the mobile Internet is "unclear," one of the categories in a three-tier ranking that also classifies major tech players as "challenged" or "well-positioned."

The report places rival Google among "well-positioned" companies, citing its combination of assets including search, video, apps, ad platform and a mobile operating system (Android). Yahoo's relegation to the no-zip sorting bin is the result of facing "new competition" in mobile.

Further on, the study points to Facebook as a serious challenger to Yahoo online and on mobile devices. "Its importance is such that it may be replacing Yahoo as the most popular online portal. Facebook is already taking significant share from other applications, and it could quite readily take a meaningful position in future online mobile search," states the report. (That could be a concern for Google as well, of course.)

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But overall, Yahoo is pictured as getting squeezed out of the mobile Internet's bright future by an incumbent rivals like Google and Adobe on one hand and a social networking upstart like Facebook, on the other. With its launch of Android, planned acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob and recent release of a series of new mobile apps like that for turn-by-turn navigation, Google has clearly grabbed the mobile momentum from Yahoo.

That's not to mention already extending its dominant position in search from the desktop to mobile devices. Like Google, Yahoo has long identified the mobile Web as a key part of its growth strategy, but beyond upgrading its mobile presence and touting numerous carrier deals, it hasn't much to show lately in terms of progress. Maybe that's why Morgan Stanley views Yahoo's mobile future as murky.

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