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Yahoo! Is Switzerland, and That's a Good Thing

Stocks in this article: YHOO NUAN AOL MSFT GOOG AAPL FB

Yesterday's report by Nicholas Carlson in Business Insider that part of Yahoo!'s $30 million deal for Summly included rights to Summly's IP from SRI International is also interesting here. SRI was the birthplace of Siri and Nuance (NUAN). It seems like Yahoo! will be able to use this if it can work more closely with Apple on Siri.

The report said that Yahoo! also wants to work more closely with Apple on search in Safari. That's hard to figure out at first blush though, as Yahoo! -- incorrectly now in hindsight -- chose to outsource search to Bing in 2009. Yahoo! controls the front-end of search in the Bing partnership, but what good would that do Apple? Perhaps the discussions are more around promoting the Yahoo! content that Siri would be getting access to anyway on Apple's Safari browser.

I've always though Apple has lagged Google, Facebook and Twitter when it comes to deploying web services. Think Apple Maps but it also goes back to the days of MobileMe. Web Services are just not what Apple lives and breathes every day.

I said last year that Apple should really buy Yahoo! and Twitter and make them the core of their new Web Services group. I believe web services will be an increasingly important battleground in phones going forward.

Google is already strong in Maps, Earth, and now into Plus and other areas. Facebook will try and push its own services in its Android-based phone. Even Samsung will be out to demonstrate it is better in Web Services than Apple, in order to differentiate its brand from other phones out there.

What's going to be Apple's response? The company can stay agnostic and let the other phone makers differentiate, it can build it or it can buy.

For those who think Apple should stay agnostic, I'd say that's like saying Apple shouldn't make a camera but just let third parties build their own photo apps to leverage the Apple hardware in the camera. There are some services that Apple should just provide. Photos is one thing. Flickr (the new mobile version) would be a great addition to iOS. Weather and stocks is another "must have" and Yahoo! does a great job there -- although it could do more.

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