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When she grabbed the mic for her first quarterly earnings call as Yahoo's CEO last October, Marissa Mayer told listeners that she would ultimately move one-half of the company's engineers to assignments working on mobile. That was how vital she saw mobile to the company's future.
A lot of investors got understandably excited. After years of musical chairs at the top, finally there was a new boss who "got it." This proverbial platform change was something that could help return the pizzazz to Yahoo. Mobile could pave the way for Yahoo to use search and personalization in new ways and take advantage of a formidable stock of daily content. The company's stock reflected that new-found optimism, increasing in value some 30 percent since Mayer took over last fall. But expectations may have hopscotched ahead of reality. One takeaway from today's earnings conference call was that Mayer doesn't yet have much to point to in terms of results. At least not just yet.
"There's a little bit of the shift to mobile affecting us there, but mobile usage is pretty incremental and additive to the experience," Mayer said after Yahoo posted slightly better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.
To be sure, she did not signal any deviation from the mobile strategy articulated earlier. In fact, Mayer made a point of offering props to Yahoo developers for coming up with a new Flicker iOS app, categorizing their work as "a huge win for Yahoo and our passionate users." She said the release of the new iOS app had helped contribute to a 25 percent increase in the number of photos "uploaded, viewed, and shared on a daily basis."
But that would be the only meaningful hard number about mobile offered during the course of an hour-long Q&A session. Asked about metrics for mobile, she demurred.