It looks like Yahoo is slowly replacing their legacy mobile web portal with the greatly enhanced one that they announced at MWC and which I reviewed a Beta of in April. According to a press release issued today users with supported handsets in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Italy should be seeing the updated site. The April Beta was launched in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Today’s additions bring the number of supported countries to 17.
The new Yahoo Mobile is a huge improvement over the old. Not only is it much more attractive, but it’s also highly customizable. Out of the box it includes OneSearch, “Today on Yahoo”, “a continually updated stream of the latest and most interesting stories” as well as a more in depth Yahoo News module with tabs for National, World, Sports and Entertainment News. There are placeholder modules urging users to add Weather, Stocks, My Yahoo, Bookmarks, Sports Scores, RSS Feeds, Yahoo IM, email from Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or AOL Mail and Yahoo’s mobile Pièce de résistance; “Social Pulse” which displays live status updates from your Flickr, Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Last.fm, Dopplr and Friendster feeds.
Most of the Beta glitches and general buginess, that I mentioned in April seem to be gone. However I experienced a new one today; my Twitter feed stopped updating May 20th! Removing Twitter from Social Pulse and putting it back got it working again
The press release mentions support for 100 additional devices, bringing the total to 400. If that sounds like a lot, consider that there are over 4500 different handset models with mobile web access. It looks like Yahoo Mobile currently supports most Windows Mobile and S60 3rd edition phones, BlackBerries with OS 4.5 or later, the iPhone, all versions of Opera Mini, Opera Mobile 9.5 and a few feature phones with the Teleca Obigio browser. Visitors to new.m.yahoo.com with older BlackBerries, Nokia S40 devices and phones with the Openwave , Motorola MIB, Netfront and Opera Mobile 8.65 browsers will see;
We are sorry! Your phone does not (yet) support the new Yahoo! homepage. Please check back later.
You can experience the new version today by downloading the latest Opera Mini mobile browser: mini.opera.com
Click here to go to the classic Yahoo! homepage
I even got the unsupported message with my new Google Ion Android phone, a high-end device if ever there was one. That has got to be a bug in Yahoo’s device detection logic as Android phones have been specifically mentioned by Yahoo in previous announcements as supported. I’ve reported the issue to Yahoo.
I gave Google a hard time about supporting only high end devices with the new mobile iGoogle and I’m going to do the same with Yahoo. I applaud efforts to deliver a superior browsing experience to advanced mobile phone browsers. and am pleased with the speed of the Yahoo Mobile roll-out. The new Yahoo Mobile looks and for the most part works great on my Nokia N95 and in Opera Mini 4.2.
However Yahoo needs to extend support to most phones. According to AdMob (PDF), smartphones made up about 12% of all web capable devices sold worldwide in 2008 and accounted for about 35% of AdMob’s ad requests in April 2009. In the developing world, S40 and similar low-end WAP2 devices are going to be around for a long time. When you strip away the eye candy Yahoo Mobile is just a web page. There is nothing that it does functionally that could not be done with a simple one-size-fits-all xhtml-mp markup. Yahoo is under a lot of competitive pressure in the mobile space lately. Last month they killed all mobile application development, except for iPhone apps, to concentrate their efforts on web based mobile services. I think that is a smart move, providing Yahoo leverages the web’s advantage as the universal mobile platform. To differentiate itself and grow Yahoo needs to rapidly extend Social Pulse and Yahoo Mobile’s other user customizable features to all mobile users; a far larger market than those of us with high-end devices.