Yahoo opens new application platform to 300 developers hoping to turn its faltering business around

In the aftermath of repeatedly failed talks with Microsoft and outright battles for boardroom supremacy, Yahoo is fighting a tough battle to regain its former glory. The search firm still has one of the largest user bases of any search engine, but it still struggles.

Yahoo is looking for anything that can help pull its plummeting stock price out of the current downward spiral. Yahoo is inviting a group of 300 programmers to its facility for an event called Open Hack Day 2008.

The programmers at the event will be the first people outside of Yahoo to get hands on new applications and programming interfaces that Yahoo hopes will help it turn the faltering site around and increase its market share.

The new applications are a core component in the Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS) according to CNET News. The hope is that YOS will help Yahoo better compete with the other search giants like Google and MSN, even though Yahoo is not able to compete with advertising programs like Google's.

The goal of YOS is to help Yahoo gain new partners and bolster advertising revenue by allowing its already substantial user base to access Yahoo in new ways. Yahoo's user base is reportedly over 500 million people each month, of which about 300 million are registered users who log onto Yahoo services like email.

YOS can do many things according to Yahoo and one example cited by CNET News came from Yahoo's Ash Patel. The application allows Yahoo users who are Netflix subscribers to place a widget on the Yahoo home page that allows them to see movies ordered and order new movies without leaving the search results.

The application could also expand to Yahoo Mail users where movies from Netflix could be rated and chats with other Netflix subscribers could take place. The biggest issue for Yahoo at this point for the service is that it has taken months for Yahoo to rewire its internal infrastructure to accommodate YOS.

It will take more months for Yahoo to get developers working on applications for YOS. It will take even more months for Yahoo to get its substantial user base to take advantage of the applications and actually use them.

Whether or not Yahoo can survive that long is simply unknown. With Investor Carl Ichan having put significant pressure on Yahoo to rekindle talks with Microsoft and now owning a seat on Yahoo's board, Yahoo's future is far from secure.

Ash Patel, Yahoo's head of audience products division said, "Yahoo allows developers to create applications for the world's biggest audience. And they're able to do monetization for advertising. Those two are huge value propositions."

It's clear what Yahoo stands to gain from its YOS endeavor -- more insight into its users behavior and what sort of ads they want. This could lead to increased advertising revenue. What is unclear is exactly what the developers will get out of programming for Yahoo's YOS. Yahoo makes no mention of allowing the programs developed to be sold to Yahoo users, but there has to be something in it for developers.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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