The Future is Yahoo the Platform

18 Sep
Rob Diana via Mashable! shared by 4 people

During the Microhoo debacle, everyone was wondering who was going to buy Yahoo. While all eyes were on that, Yahoo has been quietly going about its business. Their business now seems to be wanting to become the platform that everyone develops for, and that initiative is called Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS).

In the past few months, we have seen the release of SearchMonkey, FireEagle and the BOSS API. On Monday we saw the addition of two preview technologies, Yahoo! Social APIs and Yahoo! Query Language (YQL). Obviously, Yahoo has not been giving us empty promises.

So, what have they given us so far?

  • SearchMonkey - the structured search result data API
  • FireEagle - the location aware API
  • BOSS - the build your own search service API
  • Social APIs - a suite of preview APIs for basic social networking, contact communications, user status and user activity.
  • Yahoo! Query Language (YQL) - a preview release of a single endpoint service to query, filter and combine data across Yahoo and beyond.

Why is this interesting? Well, the first APIs that we saw were interesting by themselves. There was a good amount of hype regarding the SearchMonkey API because it gives developers a way to use search results in their own applications. FireEagle’s location awareness was a cool addition, but nothing earth-shattering by itself. BOSS allows us to create niche search services, or any application that is based on search services. So the combination of these first three services starts to get interesting. You can build a location aware niche search engine as part of your application, and your users would only know that your application is really cool and useful.

The addition of the Social API suite takes the Yahoo platform in a different direction entirely. They have not had a good history with social networking up to this point. Mash was recently shut down, and Yahoo 360 has not had the significant adoption that they hoped.

Given the number of users with email accounts and personalized homepages at My Yahoo, there is a very large market that they can tap into. By providing the Social API suite, they are giving third parties the chance to create a social application based on the Yahoo user base.

This could be a very interesting move for Yahoo. Because they have millions of users, many developers will try to create applications to woo them. Because the social applications would be using the Yahoo Mail address book and other information that users have already entered, these applications would need to be value added services instead of a “traditional” social network application. The Social APIs could be a major boon to Yahoo’s social presence, but it is not the most important technology release.

Yahoo! Query Language (YQL) uses a SQL-like SELECT syntax to retrieve data, and SHOW and DESC commands to discover the available data sources and structures that are available. For developers that are familiar with Unix systems and databases, YQL will not have a big learning curve.

This means that YQL enabled applications could be developed fairly quickly as well. Creating a generic query service gives tremendous power and flexibility to the developers. If you combine YQL with any of the other services available, like the Social APIs and FireEagle, very innovative uses of the now available Yahoo information are possible.

Even though the “business side” of Yahoo seems to be struggling, they are still a major player. They have a very large user base in their Yahoo Mail and My Yahoo properties, and Buzz is also attracting plenty of attention. With those sites, Yahoo is still valuable. The new Open Strategy is putting Yahoo in a platform position with the hope that developers can pick up the innovation slack and make Yahoo cool again. With these new releases, Yahoo is telling everyone, they are not going down without a fight.

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