Mobile World Congress: Yahoo Wants to Be Your iPhone

Are you embarrassed by your smartphone interface? Do you feel like you’re just not as productive or as sleek or as chic as those iPhone users out there? You’re not alone, and Yahoo! wants you to know that it hearts you very much. And that as of March, you can use its all-in-one mobile application portal to get iPhone-ish, without shelling out to switch to the Apple device.

Yahoo Mobile, coming soon to a smartphone near you and announced Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, is less something new and more of an integration of existing Yahoo! mobility products, plus added voice-powered search and a new integrated Opera Mini browser. But the app pulls it all together in a central phonetop format that looks a lot like the iPhone interface, meant to be customizable and meant to attain a certain kind of “can’t live without it” central clearinghouse status.

“There is a growing number of consumers out there who are not Apple iPhone users but want a rich starting experience,” Marco Boerries, the head of Yahoo’s mobile division, told Reuters.

Ironically, the app will first be available for the iPhone – in late March (minus the Opera browser, given Apple’s fierce defense of its Safari-based real estate in that area). By the end of May there will be versions for Blackberry, Nokia, Windows Mobile and other OS flavors. Android will follow later in the year. No plans to add an App Store-like knock off to the mix.

The service is built around Yahoo oneConnect, which it announced in Barcelona last year and clarified at last fall’s CTIA. oneConnect is an aggregation portal for Web-based address books, e-mail, IMs, SMS messages, and news feeds from social networking sites. Now it integrates oneSearch and Yahoo onePlace, which tracks widget information like blog posts, stock updates, weather, scores and so on. And each function is accessible through a tile-based user interface, like the iPhone.

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