mdex

Yahoo Buys Mobile Browser Firm After Shuttering its Own Attempt in June

Kirsty Styles

Yahoo has acquired the tiled social browser Rockmelt, with the technology and team expected to be integrated into Yahoo’s mobile products.

Rockemelt, which has failed to gain significant traction against market leaders like Apple’s Safari, the Android browser and Opera, integrates social sharing features directly into its browser. The company had shifted its focus to mobile, with an Android app version launched to rave reviews as recently as June.

Yahoo launched its own iOS-based search and mobile browser AXIS in May 2012 but closed the product along with 11 others in June this year. In the company's recent earnings call, its display and search businesses had lost significant revenues year-on-year, which IDC analyst Karsten Weide linked to the industry’s moves towards mobile when she spoke to Mobile Marketing in July.

Vince Vizzaccaro, EVP Marketing and Strategic Alliances at NetMarketShare.com, offered Mobile Marketing some of his thoughts on the buyout based on his company's tracking of both search and browser markets: "I believe Yahoo’s acquisition of Rockmelt isn’t as much intended to open a door into mobile browsing as it is to enhance Yahoo’s two core services – content delivery and search – and open the door to providing those core services better in mobile.

"Rockmelt initially attempted to market a social-focused browser, but has since been more about finding and presenting content in a way mobile users want to access it.  Google dominates global search on both the desktop (83 per cent) and mobile (85 per cent).  Yahoo has been gaining share slowly and steadily over the last year on both platforms. The metric to watch with regard to this acquisition, going forward, is how Yahoo performs in mobile search."

In a note to users on the company’s website, Rocketmelt said: “Our mission of exploring the web faster and in a fun way has not changed. We’re joining a fantastic team of people where we can have a much bigger impact, and we’re thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity.” This is a clear sign that Yahoo has bought the engineering talent of the browsing engine in an aqcui-hire deal. RockMelt is no longer accepting new sign ups and will close its app and web operations on 31 August. Existing users can export saved items as bookmarks and get access to their feed as an OPML file.

This is the 13th acquisition for Yahoo this year, the ninth with a mobile element to its business. For a full analysis of Yahoo’s year in mobile led by Marissa Meyer, see our piece here.