Look Out, Google: Yahoo Is Coming for iOS

Yahoo, Marissa Mayer

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) reported quarterly results on Wednesday that impressed mostly due to the large stake the company owns in China’s Alibaba, but there were also some good signs internally, with a small 1 percent increase in revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs. While CEO Marissa Mayer said that she was “pleased by our first quarter performance,” she knows she needs to do better to show that the company is actually growing itself and not just profiting off the stake in Alibaba.

According to a report from Re/code, Mayer is looking to grow Yahoo’s mobile search through an aggressive move, attempting to convince Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to ditch Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) services for Yahoo’s as the default iOS search function. According to sources in the company who spoke to the publication, Mayer and Senior Vice President of Mobile Adam Cahan are getting ready to make a presentation to Apple executives in an attempt to convince them to make Yahoo the default search engine for the Safari browser that’s included on iOS devices.

If Yahoo is able to get Apple to make the switch, it will have access to the huge number of iOS users by default. People who use Apple’s mobile devices have been repeatedly shown to engage more with the Internet and apps using iPhones and iPads, and they spend more money on mobile than people who use other platforms.

The sources who spoke to Re/code said that Mayer has prepared detailed slides showing what a Yahoo-powered Safari would look like and already has an in with Apple designer Jony Ive, whom she knows from her time working at Google.

Yahoo currently has a good relationship with Apple, as it powers the native weather and stocks apps for iOS. Search, though, is a much bigger challenge for the company, and Re/code’s sources even said that Yahoo doesn’t yet have the technology it would need in order to power Safari on iOS. Given Apple’s attention to consumer experience, the company likely won’t be willing to leave Google’s search engine until a comparable alternative is available; Yahoo isn’t quite there yet.

The advantage Yahoo has is that unlike Google, it’s not one of Apple’s major enemies. All that traffic and mobile shopping being done on iOS devices is sending lots of cash Google’s way. It’s even been alleged that Google makes more money from iOS devices than it does from phones running on its Android platform, and Apple may be leaning toward making a completely Google-free iPhone in order to stop funding a major competitor, TechCrunch has speculated. Switching Safari to Yahoo would be a step toward this goal, though Apple won’t be likely to do so unless Yahoo can give it a top-notch product.

Search isn’t the only arena in which Mayer is challenging her former employer. Creating a higher-quality competitor to YouTube is also high on the CEO’s list. She’s already snagged celebrity reporter Katie Couric and gained access to the archives of Saturday Night Live for the service, and is in the process of poaching YouTube’s top stars from the site by offering them more money than Google is willing to pay them.

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