Yahoo Kills Reading Tool Led By Departed Executive
05/25/2012| 05:48pm US/Eastern
--Yahoo says it will pivot to a "mobile-products-first development model"
--Yahoo discontinuing Livestand after chief product officer left the company late last month
--Livestand had seen little uptick in use after its launch
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By John Letzing and Amir Efrati
Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) said Friday it has decided to discontinue its Livestand digital news reading application, which had been unveiled to much fanfare following a delay in November.
Yahoo said in a post on a company blog that it intends to "consolidate" a number of products this year and will pivot to a "mobile-products-first development model."
Among the first decisions made as part of this plan is to discontinue Livestand, which was designed for Apple Inc.'s (>> Apple Inc.) iPad tablet, Yahoo said.
"We have learned a lot from Livestand and are actively applying those insights toward the development of future products that are better aligned with Yahoo's holistic mobile strategy," the company said.
Livestand's development had been overseen by former Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving, who officially left the company late last month.
Irving's departure was announced by Yahoo shortly after it announced it would lay off about 2,000 employees--a move that significantly affected his department.
It took about one year and several dozen engineers to produce Livestand, which saw little uptick in use after it launched, said a person familiar with the matter.
Livestand competed with services like Zite and Flipboard that had a huge head start. Yahoo has had some difficulties leveraging its large user base on desktop PCs to download Yahoo apps on their mobile devices.
But Livestand generally received positive reviews. Yahoo noted Friday that the app had earned a 4-star rating in Apple's App Store.
"With all the great things we learned from people's interactions with Livestand, we know we can create beautiful... media properties that give the richest experiences to the most people," Yahoo said.
Yahoo, which over the past year made a push to release software "apps" like Livestand to mobile devices, gets significant traffic to its mobile websites from mobile-device users. So the company plans to spend more resources beefing up those sites, said the person familiar with the matter.
Earlier this week, Yahoo unveiled a new Internet browsing tool called Axis.
The new browser, which enables users to quickly sift through websites on a phone or desktop, is a "great example" of Yahoo's renewed focus on mobile products, the company said Friday.
Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., in January hired new CEO Scott Thompson to oversee a turnaround effort. But Thompson stepped aside earlier this month after activist investor Third Point LLC--which was waging a bruising proxy battle against Yahoo--disclosed that a company filing had misstated his academic record. Ross Levinsohn was appointed to succeed him as interim CEO.
-By John Letzing and Amir Efrati, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; firstname.lastname@example.org