The Yahoo chronicles. Needs: new CEO. Has: new Flickr app

September 28, 2011

Yahoo opened the doors to the bunker on Wednesday, inviting reporters to its San Francisco outpost even as the company faces a barrage of questions about its future.

The event was to unveil a couple of new product announcements from Yahoo’s Flickr division, the 50-person photo-sharing product group based in San Francisco’s financial district.

The Flickr folks unveiled the official Flickr app for Android smartphones, with features such as built-in photo filters to spiff up pictures and various social networking capabilities. The other new product is called “photo session,” a real-time collaboration tool that allows groups of friends to flip through and play with online photo albums together in their Web browsers.

Yahoo executives outlined the company’s focus on mobile and social as a core part of it strategy going forward, promising an “accelerated pace of mobile offerings” and touting Yahoo’s ability to leverage what it referred to as users’ “interest graph” (which it distinguished from the “social graph” that Facebook controls and the “information graph” that Google dominates).

The elephant in the room however was the uncertain future of Yahoo, which fired Chief Executive Carol Bartz earlier this month and has retained investment bank Allen & Co as it undergoes a “strategic review” that many observers think will lead to the company’s break-up or sale.

Would the leadership gap distract Yahoo employees or undermine efforts to innovate and push forward with its mobile and social strategies?

Not according to Yahoo Vice President of applications and mobile product management Steve Douty, who said that Yahoo employees were “heads down,” and focused “on the same mission that we were before.”

“There’s no reason to put the brakes on anything that we’re doing at this point,” Douty said.

“Is there some amount of uncertainty? Sure. But if you read a lot of what’s written about Yahoo, that’s been written about us for months and months, and years,” he explained.

Of course, Yahoo hasn’t exactly proved any of the naysayers wrong in recent years: revenue has declined during the past three years while the company’s stock price has never returned to the levels it traded at before spurning Microsoft’s acquisition offer in 2008.

So perhaps, it’s business as usual at Yahoo, for better or for worse…

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