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With Internet users on mobile phones increasing rapidly in India, Yahoo is focusing on developing applications for this growing market, a senior company official said on Saturday. Yahoo, which has its presence in almost all categories of Internet users’ daily habits, plans to move its personalized experiences to mobile, said Hari Vasudeva, Head of R&D at Yahoo India. Also Read - WordPress owner Automattic buys Tumblr from Verizon
Yahoo was making talent-based acquisitions with lot of it focused on growing mobile talent within the organization to develop very personalized experiences for users that will inspire and delight them in their daily habits, he told reporters on the sidelines of the sixth edition of the Yahoo Hack India event. About 250 hackers from different parts of India are participating in the two-day event which began Saturday. Yahoo Hack is a way for the company to engage with the developers’ community in the country and also attract the best talent to work for it. Also Read - Yahoo to pay USD 117.5M in latest settlement of massive breach
Vasudeva expects the number of mobile Internet users in India to go up to 300 million by 2015 from the current 180 million. With the prices of mobile phones coming down and new devices being launched every month, the trend of using Internet on mobile is going to accelerate. Vasudeva believes this will spur application development. “We want our users to be able to experience our best of breed services on mobile phones just like they do on desktops,” he said.
According to him, Yahoo reaches 62 percent of Internet users in India. Out of 300 million users who access Yahoo on mobile globally, 40 million are in India. Yahoo India R&D centre at Bangalore has 2,000 employees and is the second largest centre out of its headquarters in the US. “We have very robust product pipeline and a very robust product roadmap that we believe will allow us to develop extremely innovative products that inspire and delight our customers and make the daily habits much more inspiring and delightful,” Vasudeva said while declining to give any specifics of the products Yahoo will be launching. He said there was lot of excitement both internally and externally about Yahoo these days with respect to the pace with which it was launching the products.
“You will start to see products in our roadmap that will create more energy and enthusiasm and focus on mobile products including search for mobile space,” he said. Vasudeva said as search was a daily habit of users, it will be big focus for Yahoo. The company recently launched refreshed search experience in the US and is now looking it to take it to mobile and other markets. He declined to give any timeframe for its launch in India. On shutting down search engine Alta Vista, he said the company was creating a sense of focus. “Alta Vista has not changed many years whereas we continue to innovate on Yahoo search itself a lot.”
On Tumblr, the online blogging forum acquired by Yahoo in May for $1.1 billion, he said it would continue to operate as an independent company. Tumblr will be the key for Yahoo in social networking space. Tumblr is hugely popular among youth with the users being in the age group of 18-25 years. “We will continue to operate Tumblr as a separate company to make sure that its focus remains as it is. We want to leverage their strength and give Yahoo’s strengths to Tumblr in search and advertising,” he said.
Asked how Yahoo plans to make Tumblr popular in India, he said the acquisition was just completed and they were looking at various opportunities.
About Flickr, Yahoo’s popular photo sharing site, Vasudeva said they recently allocated one terabyte free storage to users. “If you upload a picture every hour, this storage will last for 65 years. For most people who take pictures and share them on daily basis with friends and families, it is life time storage. We are the only company doing this,” he said. Flickr has a user base of 2.5 million in India and 80 million globally before the new service was launched. The posts have gone up by 50 percent after they redesigned the site in May.