Friday 13 March 2020

Yahoo Mobile Recycling a brand or an actual innovation?

Verizon is launching a mobile phone service through the Yahoo brand called Yahoo Mobile.  It offers subscribers unlimited data, calls and texts for $40 a month on the Verizon’s network. In addition, the plan comes with access to Yahoo Mail Pro, the ad-free version of the email service, which comes with 1,000 GB of storage.

Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2017 to help it expand into the digital advertising space. So the unveiling of today's mobile phone plan may be an attempt to get more users on Yahoo properties to increase ad revenue.The deal included the Yahoo brand and major web services like Flickr and Tumblr. But Verizon was mainly interested in Yahoo’s ad technology, and it’s done little with Yahoo. Both Flickr and Tumblr have since been sold off, and Yahoo’s biggest announcements have been payouts for data breaches.

It seems unlikely the free access to the $3.49-a-month Yahoo Mail Pro will lure anyone to try out the new service. However, the $40 monthly rate for unlimited data may entice consumers looking for a cheaper plan. It is a good price; Verizon charges $65 per month for a prepaid unlimited plan, and AT&T charges $45 per month.

However there are restrictions for example hotspot use being limited to one device at a time, speeds capped at 5 megabits per second and customers will be restricted to Verizon’s 4G LTE network at a time when the operator has been rolling out its faster 5G service across the country. Apparently support for 5G is coming later in 2020.

On the plus side, Yahoo Mobile will give subscribers free access to Verizon’s mobile hotspots whenever available, although speeds will be capped at 5 Mbps. In addition, the carrier says customers can cancel the plan whenever they want.

Family plans are not yet available but they may come later. Verizon says that while the focus is on individual plans for now, "Yahoo Mobile will evolve to meet consumers' needs as it continues to grow."

 Yahoo will be selling phones, though you can also bring your own. A compatibility checker on Yahoo Mobile's site will allow you to see if your phone will work on the network.

However this does feel like a lazy attempt to recycle the Yahoo brand, Yahoo Mobile is basically just a rebranded version of Visible, which is another spinoff phone service operated by Yahoo.
 The singular plan is the same, their websites match up beat for beat, and Yahoo Mobile even offers Visible’s phone insurance plan under Visible’s name. However Visible does not even have the cap that Yahoo Mobile does.
Spinoff carriers like Yahoo Mobile and Visible let Verizon diversify its business and test out new ways of selling wireless service. Verizon isn’t exactly a beloved brand, but Visible has hip branding and a simple pricing structure — something that might appeal to younger customers. Yahoo Mobile offers another take on that, just with the added bonus of  subscription Yahoo Mail. However is that enough to lure customers and gain a foothold in the market?

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