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Mayer! predicts! mobile! personalized! future! for! Yahoo! at! Davos!

Yahoo! surfing 4th wave, she tells World Economic Forum

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Marissa Mayer has given an extended interview on her future plans for Yahoo! in which she said the company is ideally positioned to catch what she calls the "fourth wave" of the internet.

Yahoo! was the first stage of internet development, i.e. internet directories, Mayer said during an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Then came the search wave, then social, and now the fourth wave is kicking in: mobile.

"That's all happened in about 15 years, four major technology shifts that changed who the big players are," she said. "There's always room for disruption."

The company has been investing in mobile technology and is optimizing itself for smartphone and tablet users, she said, and the results would be higher usage rates for Yahoo! and a better user experience.

Part of that was down to what she called the "interest graph," which would connect people who not only are linked by places or relationships, but by a commonality of interests. This would let Yahoo! personalize your internet content based on what other people with similar interests like.

This sounds suspiciously like Facebook's Social Graph function, which began a very limited beta this week. But Facebook has more of this kind of personal data than any other company, and Zuckerberg has said his gang is having problems correlating data. If Facebook's got problems then how will Yahoo! fare, El Reg wonders.

The Yahoo! interest graph would lead to a more personalized service, she said. People would have to share more information to make it work, but it would be worth it, she promised.

"Privacy is always something users should consider, but it's a trade-off," she said. "When you give up some personal information you get some functionality in return. For me the core concepts of privacy online are transparency, choice and control."

She envisaged an industry standard on personal information, in the form of a clear statement of what is being shared and a set metric for taking one's personal information off one system and adding it to another.

The interest graph would take Yahoo! "back to its roots" she said, by ordering information on the internet in a way that best suits its users. Yahoo! was executing now to get this in place, she said, and the results should bring the company back up the roster of internet power-brokers. ®

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