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Yahoo’s first Mobile Developer Conference

Impressions from Yahoo’s first Mobile Developer Conference
By Fred Welterlin and Grant Damron

Yahoo held their first Mobile Developer Conference in San Francisco last week. Overall we are most impressed and excited that Yahoo appears to be getting back to focusing on innovation (not content curation), as shown from some of the product feature launches. The day began with Marisa Meyer and Simon Khalaf clearly pinning Yahoo’s future as a “mobile first” oriented company. Note that in the context of Yahoo’s strategy, “mobile first” really means “apps first.” Khalaf in particular illustrated the current app usage revolution by cross examining analytics that suggest a huge exponential growth of app usage well into the future. Interestingly, while a handful of social apps (Facebook, etc) represent where consumers spend the majority of their time, Yahoo asserts that the largest growth areas (the long tail) will be elsewhere- specifically, shopping applications. Yahoo wants to position itself as a leader by providing the technologies that allow start-ups and existing businesses to grow mobile app based commerce and perhaps even leverage some of Yahoo’s content offerings.

Central to the “app first” strategy is Flurry (acquired by Yahoo this year), the premier mobile analytics tool. The rapid integration of the firm into Yahoo’s larger ecosystem has made it possible for a collection of new (and “free”) products to be developed and announced at the conference, named the Yahoo Mobile App Development Suite (featuring 6 tools that mostly support analytics and monetization). Of the new offerings, 2 analytics oriented tools caught our eyes:

  • “Explore” allows users to run custom queries on data in real time, generating high quality graphs within seconds. Think along the lines of Tableau, but free. A quick overview of the service’s architecture presented in the afternoon implied some fascinating innovations and, not surprisingly, that it is running Hadoop under the hood.
  • “Pulse” has a little ways to go- but has potential. It allow devs to send analytics data from the app to other services (reducing overhead – most noticeable in terms of network and battery usage). Only one service is currently integrated, limiting its immediate utility. It will be interesting to see what other analytics services get on board, down the road.

As for monetization, Yahoo has been a major player in targeted advertising for some time now, so it’s no surprise that their tools are designed to funnel data through their ad platform as much as possible (this is what makes it possible for Flurry to be free!). While not exactly new, the most significant ad-specific product unveiled was the Native Ads Service. In an attempt to move beyond the ecosystem of boring ad banners, the service provides applications with all the assets for a quality ad (copy, image, etc) while allowing the apps themselves to handle placement and presentation. This encourages more consistent integration with the host app’s content. Yahoo presented numbers that support an increase in conversion rates, at least within Yahoo’s own apps.

Our Take Away
Clearly, Yahoo is looking to empower native app start-ups with “free” tools that provide them with measurement so that product refinement cycles can occur quickly, based on direct feedback. Coupled with seamless integration of advertising (for example, we noted beautifully integrated BrightRoll video ads within some app demos), and the potential to leverage Yahoo’s enormous reach with users and content (news, sports, etc), business developers for mobile applications have a nice set of tools to help them find an edge in the increasingly crowded yet still “wide open” mobile ecosystem. Show me the money!

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SharePoint Conference 2009 – Day 3

Day 3!  The whole reason I am at the SharePoint Conference this year is because I am helping our client present their SharePoint case study in one of today’s sessions.

I scheduled some lightweight sessions in the morning, starting with the fun Building Sharepoint Mashups With SharePoint Designer, Bing Maps and REST Services.  This session was really pretty straight forward.  Using a data view web part to retrieve data from an MSN and Twitter RSS and/or REST feeds and then using XSLT to display maps mashup data (Google or Bing).

Before lunch, I went to Best Practices for Implementing Multi-Lingual Solutions on SharePoint 2010 to see what new things has 2010 in store for Variations.  While there are big changes in store for multi-lingual solutions, they are more on the admin/UI side.  The biggest improvement is the performance gains in building the Heirarchy Creation as timer jobs.  From a UI perspective, the chrome is now also localized based on User preferred language selectable from all the language packs installed.  And as much as I shake my head when I hear this from people, SharePoint 2010 DOES NOT TRANSLATE YOUR SITE CONTENT AUTOMAGICALLY!

I met my client for lunch and we proceeded as a group to Breaker E – our session room.  We presented “Kraft: Migration of Consumer Facing Websites to SharePoint” to a roomful of people and a few came up for questions, comments and leads after the session.  We consider it a success!  That was of course the highlight of my day and everything else was just blah after that point ;p  If you missed it, or are interested in watching the video of the presentation, a copy of the deck and a video of the presentation is up and available on the SharePoint Conference site.  You would need to login with your Windows Live ID.

I spent the afternoon going to Developing Social Applications with SharePoint 2010; and Customizing the Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Deployment Process. In 2010, comments, ratings, my network, RSS feeds all come out of the box.  The social features available in SharePoint 2010 are ok but not good enough yet, IMO.  This is one area where I think the focus is still more in ECM implementations rather than the Internet.  The Manager/Employee methapor just will not work in the real world.  And though, I was told by the Product team that it could be implemented in an Internet scenario, as shown in their Adventureworks demo – I will have to form that opinion once I’ve seen their Adventureworks demo site.  Deployment has indeed been made simpler in VS2010 by being able to compile and deploy from VS2010 to a local SharePoint instance.  But for deploying between environments, and betwen farms – WSPs are still the best way to go.

This evening’s event is Ask The Expert and SharePoint Idol, a Rock Band competition.  I thought for a sec about joining a team but changed my mind.  I had fun watching them though.

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