Yahoo announced a product today called "Livestand," an app for tablet and mobile devices that will start as a personalized browsing tool for Yahoo-owned content and, in the future, possibly external content as well. Powering it is technology that Yahoo envisions as a way for both publishers and advertisers to easily reach tablet and smartphone users.
At launch, Livestand will feature content from Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News, Flickr, celebrity gossip site OMG, and the Yahoo Contributor Network (fueled by media from Associated Content, the freelance clearinghouse that Yahoo acquired last year). The content will be customized based on user preference, as well as time of the day and location--say, local news and weather reports. Advertisements, according to a release, will be "magazine-style." Livestand will first be available as Android and iPad tablet apps in the next few months, followed by a browser-based version and smartphone apps.
Livestand will also be the centerpiece of a talk that CEO Carol Bartz, whose attempt to turn around the flagging tech company has been heavily criticized, will make at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona later this month.
Last fall, Yahoo partnered with coffee chain Starbucks on a tablet-optimized landing page accessible only from Starbucks stores and powered by Yahoo content and technology. Livestand, with its local targeting and slick interface, has somewhat of the same feel. Tablet-based publications have been all the rage since the debut of the iPad a year ago, with recent months seeing the emergence of tablet-only news publications like News Corp.'s The Daily and lifestyle magazines like Virgin Group's Project. But what Yahoo has built, and is initially fueling with its own content, is a visual news reader--a concept that has been popularized by the likes of Flipboard, a start-up that turns RSS feeds and Twitter streams into a magazine-like interface.
The real test for this new product will be whether additional content partners--say, magazine publishers and newspapers--choose to jump on board when Yahoo opens the gates.