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Mayer moves Yahoo further away from search with new content push

Caitlin McGarry | Jan. 9, 2014
Mayer made a slew of announcements about new Yahoo products tied those core areas.

Forget search. The future of Yahoo is content. Yahoo's loss to Google in the search engine wars was already quite evident before the 2014 International CES, but CEO Marissa Mayer revealed a new focus for the company during her Tuesday keynote at the tech trade show.

"A comment theme is us simplifying our business," Mayer said at the show. "Fundamentally when you look at Yahoo it's about four core areas: search, communications, digital magazines, and video. These are four things people do as part of their daily habits."

Mayer made a slew of announcements about new Yahoo products tied those core areas. In the process, she answered a few questions like: Why on earth did the company hire TV anchor Katie Couric and former New York Times technology columnist David Pogue?

Mayer and Couric at CES 2014
JAMES NICCOLAI, IDG NEWS SERVICE. Marissa Mayer, right, greets Katie Couric onstage at CES 2014.

Riding the content wave
Couric is anchoring interviews and original content for Yahoo's mobile apps, while Pogue will lead the Yahoo Tech digital magazine, one of the first magazines Yahoo will launch this year. The company also trotted out Nick D'Aloisio, the teenage CEO that made headlines when Yahoo last year acquired Summly, his summarization technology. Summly is now baked into another new app that Mayer unveiled at CES, Yahoo News Digest.

News Digest delivers two daily news summaries of current events to users, one in the morning and another at night, and pulls content from all over the Web—tweets, photos, infographics, maps, and so on—to make the stories more visually appealing.

D'Aloisio said the app is the best of both the tech and journalism worlds, because "the stories are algorithmically produced but editorially curated."

News Digest isn't a unique concept. Apps like Circa have been trying in recent years to solve readers' thirst for extremely short, but incredibly high-quality content. But Yahoo's news efforts needed a shot in the arm: News Digest is its attempt to stay relevant in the world of bite-sized information.

Yahoo Tech
Yahoo's new digital magazines feature some heavy talent, like David Pogue, formerly of the New York Times and now editor of the new Yahoo Tech, which is shown above.

While 140-character news is on the rise, readers are also thirsting for visually rich long-form stories, which is where Yahoo's new digital magazines aim to compete. Mayer hired big-name journalists like Pogue for Yahoo Tech, which launched Tuesday along with Yahoo Food. As with News Digest, the concept of a niche digital mag is nothing revolutionary, but it offers Yahoo a chance to ride the wave of popularity of apps like Flipboard.


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