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Mayer, who joined Yahoo as chief executive in July, discussed her approach to mobile with Fortune during an event the publication sponsored in Palo Alto Tuesday night. The mobile strategy appeared to be based on ethnography, or observing how people actually use their mobile devices in real life. She started with Yahoo's own employees.
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As previously reported, Mayer is giving all Yahoo employees iPhones or Android devices this week, upgrading them from BlackBerrys. "It was really important that our engineers, our salespeople, everyone throughout the whole organization really understand Android, iPhones and Windows 8," she said. "You want the engineers to feel it, you want the salespeople to say 'Hey, I saw this great thing on this app. We should do this on our app.'"
Mayer recalled how she got her chief of staff to look at what people do on their mobile phones. She ignored services that carriers provide, like voice, but she also removed maps from consideration. "I've done maps in my former life. It's very expensive, very hard to do well. Apple's finding that out," she said. "So, we're not gonna do maps." Encouragingly, Mayer found that the most common activities -- checking weather, mail, stocks, news, share photos and check sports scores -- are services that Yahoo provides. "This is a huge opportunity for Yahoo," she says.
From the sound of it, Mayer was convinced that Yahoo is in the right place. She just thinks the company needs to execute better on the services it provides and perhaps partner with someone else: "One of our employees got up at a Friday afternoon meeting and asked 'We don't have a mobile OS, we don't have mobile hardware, we don't have a browser, we don't have a social network. How are we going to compete?' And I said 'Well, we don't have a mobile OS, we don't have mobile hardware, we don't have a social network and we don't have a browser, which means we can partner with the best people.'"
Image courtesy of Flickr, tixx
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