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商业 - 科技

玛丽莎•梅耶尔的愿景能激活雅虎吗?

Miguel Helft 2014年01月10日

雅虎首席执行官玛丽莎•梅耶尔在今年的国际消费电子展上大放异彩,但她勾勒出的美好愿景能否取信于广告主,从而为雅虎带来实实在在的营收,一切都还有待时间的检验。

    雅虎(Yahoo)首席执行官在每年于拉斯维加斯举行的消费电子展上发表的主题演讲向来乏善可陈。

    2010年,时任雅虎首席执行官的卡罗尔•巴茨甚至没有给出任何解释,就临时取消了演讲。

    而2008年,雅虎联合创始人杨致远一开场,就向赶来看公司新任首席执行官的听众道歉:“抱歉,让各位失望了。这次还是我来发表主题演讲。”

    还有2006年,当时的首席执行官特里•塞梅尔……呃,都没人记得这回事了。

    所以,玛丽莎•梅耶尔要想在这方面超越前任并不实什么太难的事。梅耶尔在周二举行的年度科技界盛会——消费电子展上了主题演讲。不出所料,她的表现比她的前辈们要好得多。她为总部位于加州森尼韦尔市的雅虎公司制定的愿景在很多方面与杨致远截然相反:不道歉、新鲜,且极具前瞻性和创新性。梅耶尔提出的愿景欣然接纳移动革命,而且基于四大支柱:搜索、通讯、数字化杂志(稍后会展开谈谈这一点)、视频。

    然而,谁都说不准,这个愿景是否足以应对梅耶尔面临的最大挑战:她能否使止步不前的雅虎重现增长?

    梅耶尔绝大部分时间都在谈雅虎的媒体内容战略。她强调,“媒体内容是雅虎的一贯优势之一”,同时还邀请美国著名新闻主播凯蒂•科瑞克一同登台亮相。【科瑞克履历丰富,曾在美国广播公司(ABC)、哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)和全国广播公司(NBC)工作过。它预示着雅虎今后将会提供大量原创新闻专访和名人访谈,不过具体细节目前还不得而知。】

    随后,梅耶尔隆重请出年仅18岁的英国天才少年尼克•阿洛伊西奥。后者是新闻聚合软件Summly的开发者,雅虎去年3月以3000万美元高价将其收入囊中。不过,这桩交易也引来业界行家的纷纷质疑。阿洛伊西奥向大家介绍了Summly的下一步发展:雅虎新闻文摘(Yahoo News Digest)。这款应用将通过各种算法以及人工编辑从多方来源获取新闻信息,然后以每天两次的频率将摘要推送给移动端用户。不错,大家可以猜到,新闻文摘中势必将包含大量图片、视频和社交媒体信息,而这正是梅耶尔一直想解决的一个难题,互联网的信息“篇幅太长,没时间阅读”。这款应用看起来很酷,不过市场竞争之惨烈也是必然的。

    界面抓人眼球,令人爱不释手的新闻文摘似乎给雅虎带来不少灵感,它把这种手法也用到了其他形式的内容身上。梅耶尔说,雅虎一直在探索一个问题:“如果把杂志的优雅与互联网的威力结合起来,会擦出什么火花?”雅虎美食是第一个成果。这个垂直内容频道吸收了电子杂志的基因:简洁的大篇幅交互式标题和醒目的图片,和移动应用Flipboard颇有几分相似。

    The history of Yahoo (YHOO) CEOs giving keynotes at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is not exactly stellar.

    There was 2010, when Carol Bartz canceled her appearance abruptly with little explanation.

    There was 2008, when co-founder Jerry Yang opened with a cringe-inducing apology. ("I'm sorry to disappoint you," Yang told an audience that had come to see the new face of Yahoo. "It's still the same old face.")

    So the bar for Marissa Mayer, who delivered a keynote Tuesday at the annual tech gathering, was pretty low. Unsurprisingly, Mayer cleared that bar with much room to spare. She laid out a vision for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company that in many ways is the anti-Yang: unapologetic, fresh, forward-looking, and innovative. It fully embraces the mobile revolution and is based on four pillars: search, communications, digital magazines -- more on this in a moment -- and video.

    Yet it remains anyone's guess as to whether this vision will be enough to address the biggest challenge Mayer faces: Can she restart Yahoo's stalled growth?

    Mayer spent much of her time talking about content. "Media has long been one Yahoo's key strengths," she said, before trotting out her marquee media hire, broadcast personality Katie Couric. (Couric, a veteran of ABC, CBS, and NBC, promised lots of interviews with newsmakers, leaders, and celebrities, but gave few other details about her plans.)

    Mayer followed that by introducing Nick D'Alosio, the English teenager who founded Summly, a content startup that Yahoo bought in March for $30 million. Yahoo's acquisition of the company, which used algorithms to summarize news stories, is controversial. On stage, D'Alosio demonstrated what Summly has become: Yahoo News Digest, a twice-a-day summary of the news that is produced from multiple sources through a blend of technology and human editing and delivered to mobile devices. As you might expect, the News Digest is heavy on photos, video, and social streams. It is meant to help people with a problem that Mayer described as "tl;dr" -- Internet-speak for "too long, didn't read." It looks cool, but will be competing in a very crowded market.

    The visually arresting look and feel of the News Digest inspired Yahoo to apply a similar presentation to other forms of content. The company asked, "What would happen if we combined the elegance of magazines with the power of the web?" Mayer said. The first result of that exploration is Yahoo Food, the first content vertical to receive the digital magazine treatment. With big interactive tiles that are easy to navigate and bold pictures, it's somewhat reminiscent of the mobile application Flipboard.

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