This is first of my posts on trends that were illustrated by announcements at CES 2008:
1. Open platforms - everything is opening up and everyone wants to own the platform.
At Yahoo's keynote talk, Jerry Yang (who just this year returned to serve as the CEO of Yahoo after years away) showed off two new open platforms - one just launched and one as a concept for the future.
Yahoo! Go 3.0 - Yahoo! has offered a rich visual interface for download onto mobile devices and easy access to Yahoo's most popular tools for a while now. With Yahoo! Go 3.0 Yahoo has standardized the mobile widgets on an open platform, and allowed other brands to build widgets for download and integration directly into the mobile platform. Advertisers will also be able leverage the platform by designing ads that utilize the Yahoo! features such as maps. Yahoo opening their mobile platform is a direct response to Google's announcement of Android, the open mobile platform that was announced in 2007 and we'll likely here more about at the Mobile World Congress next month. Verizon Wireless has also announced that they'll open up their famously closed network by the end of the year.
Yahoo! Social Mail (concept) - Yahoo! also showed a conceptual design for a new Social Mail program built out of their popular online mail client. The Social Mail concept would be turning Yahoo! Mail into an open platform for communication, allowing other companies like MySpace and eVite to integrate directly with Yahoo! Mail, as well as all of the other Yahoo! properties that would not be integregated, such as Maps and Flickr. It would start by turning the Mail startpage into a life-stream of all of your contacts, letting you know when you friends updated flickr, facebook, sent you a text message, IM, or e-mail. All of your contacts across all of your properties would be integrated, sync'd, and ranked based on your overall communication levels. Then you would be able to leverage all of the integrated programs.
For example, say you were IMing friends via Yahoo! Messenger inside your Yahoo! Mail program, and everyone decided to go out to dinner tonight. You'd be able to click the Yahoo! Maps tab and see everyone's favorite restaurants ranked via Yelp! Then you'd be able to send out an eVite with the names of the people you are IMing, the highest ranked restaurant across all of your friends preferences already added on, and the event assigned to your calendar. Afterwards, all of the pictures your friends took at the dinner would show up in your life-stream in-box. Google, again, is expected to reveal a similar integrated email program in the near future, at the very least leveraging more Google properties. Mail is the most social application we have, regardless of the spread of MySpace and Facebook, and both Yahoo! and Google are expected to leverage this into a more powerful social application in 2008.
Here is a small portion of video footage I took of the talk where Jerry Yang shows the friend rating, mapping, and eVite features.