Today at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, Yahoo announced a mobile app called oneConnect that will be available in the second quarter as part of the upcoming release of Yahoo Go 3.0. I have not seen a demo of this myself, but it sounds like a much-needed integration of messaging and social apps. OneConnect will pull together contacts from your mobile phone, Yahoo address book, and social networks, including:
You will be able to see whether your contacts are online, recent messages, status updates, uploaded photos, and other activity streams for each one. Of course, you will also be able to send them messages via e-mail, IM, and SMS. The mobile app will save SMS and IM conversations as a single thread, even if you are texting and the other person is using Yahoo Messenger. The app also supports AIM, MSN Messenger, and Google Talk.
A feature called “Pulse” will give you the most recent updates of all your contacts across all the social networks it monitors. You’d see, for instance, that your girlfriend just added a photo to Flickr, your business partner just updated his Facebook page to say he landed in London, and your brother just sent out a Twitter. It is like Friendfeed or Spokeo on your mobile phone, tied to your address book so that you can message your friends based on what they are doing.
Yahoo didn’t invent anything here, but simply integrating all of these services is powerful stuff. If you think about it, oneConnect is a mobile portal for the social Web. It connects you to your friends online and then gets out of the way.
One app that can pull together all your friends’ activities from social sites across the Web and present it in a consistent way should strengthen Yahoo’s position on mobile phones. Except on a few advanced handsets like the iPhone, the browser is not yet the ideal user interface for interacting with the Web on your mobile phone. A dedicated mobile app like oneConnect, which itself will be part of Yahoo Go, makes much more sense. But there are only so many apps you can launch on your phone before feeling overwhelmed. This fits in nicely with Yang’s “starting point” strategy. There can only be a few starting points on the mobile Web, and Yahoo is well on its way to being one of them.