Yahoo search chief sees Apple as key to expansion

Yahoo Inc.'s search chief said Friday he is focused on expanding market share, an assurance that comes despite an uncertain future for the Internet giant thanks to the recent ouster of its CEO and interest from potential acquirers.

Shashi Seth, Yahoo's senior vice president of search products, said during a conference call hosted by a Wall Street analyst that he is trying to keep his team focused, despite the recent uncertainty and related media scrutiny.

In particular, Seth said Yahoo sees mobile phone searches, and device maker Apple Inc. as key to expanding Yahoo's presence.

Seth estimated that 32% of all mobile Internet searches originate on devices running Apple's iOS software, which powers the popular iPhone and iPad.

While Google Inc. currently provides a default search engine for Apple devices, Seth suggested Apple and others may one day prefer to work with Yahoo.

That is because Google has developed into a competitor to Apple in mobile software and hardware, Seth said.

Google has developed the Android mobile operating system, and is seeking to acquire phone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

"As long as Yahoo is not a threat in the mobile space," Seth said,"many of our partners believe it's the best value proposition." Seth said Yahoo will actively seek to muscle in on Google's arrangement with Apple.

However, he acknowledged that Yahoo first needs to improve the amount of ad revenue it generates per search: "We do need to make the [revenue-per-search] improvements before we walk in to make that deal," he said. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said publicly in May that Google successfully had renewed its search partnership with Apple.

But Seth said it may be up for bid again in the near future."From my understanding, that deal is renewed year after year," Seth said.

Representatives from Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Yahoo has sought to stabilize its share of a U.S. search market long dominated by Google.

According to data from comScore, Yahoo's share was 16.3% last month, compared to 17.4% in the same month a year earlier. In an effort to team up on Google, Yahoo has partnered with Microsoft Corp. in a deal that has Microsoft powering searches on Yahoo sites, in a revenue-sharing arrangement.

The Microsoft deal was seen as a key achievement for former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, though both companies have acknowledged that the deal has yet to start generating expected revenue improvements for search advertising.

In the wake of Bartz's departure after she was fired last week, Yahoo Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse is serving as interim CEO as the company assesses its overall strategy.

Yahoo recently has been contacted by bidders interested in buying either some or all of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo shares were up 1.4% at $15.10 in Friday afternoon trading.

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22 April 2024

21 04 2024