Yahoo adds wireless to portal

With market attention focused on its expected poor earnings report due out on Wednesday, Yahoo Inc. put the spotlight on Tuesday on developments related to its enterprise portal software business, including wireless access capabilities.

Yahoo on Tuesday unveiled new features available with Yahoo PortalBuilder 2.0 server software, enabling users to access content via wireless devices, and enhanced administration tools for integration and personalization.

The updated software includes support for Novell Inc.’s NDS eDirectory giving customers authentication based on a user’s identity. The added support means that companies can deploy the portal across various network types and for use with leading operating systems, Yahoo said in a news release.

PortalBuilder 2.0 also includes software from nQuire Software Inc. allowing users to pull together content from data warehouses and operational or transactional systems. It further includes technology from Intraware Inc. that provides a personalized and secure archive where customers can download software, updates and patches for PortalBuilder 2.0, as well as companion software from Yahoo partners.

Yahoo also announced that ASP (application service provider) Corio Inc. would offer hosting, support and management services for Corporate Yahoo to Corio customers who want to have the software managed externally.

Besides the software upgrade news, Yahoo said that it has signed up 18 customers for Corporate Yahoo, the company’s portal business, since it became available six months ago. Corporate Yahoo allows businesses to customize Internet content and services on their Web sites and to integrate it with proprietary corporate content and applications behind firewalls. With these agreements, Yahoo surpassed 800,000 licensed seats for Corporate Yahoo, the company said in the release.

As for the earnings report due out Wednesday, Yahoo depends on advertising for revenue, but analysts paint a stagnant picture. Monday, Merrill Lynch’s Internet analyst Henry Blodget predicted industry-wide online advertising revenue of US$8 billion this year, about the same as last year. Dutch investment firm ABN Amro downgraded Yahoo’s rating Tuesday to “hold” from “buy.” The company’s stock lost 4.6 per cent dropping to $27.19 per share at the close of trading Monday, two days before the company is expected to release its fourth-quarter results. The share price had rebounded Tuesday morning, trading at $28.38 shortly after the U.S. stock markets opened.

The online advertising slowdown may have broader and direr consequences throughout the Internet, said Whit Andrews, an analyst at technology market research firm Gartner Group Inc.

“Advertising revenues are taking a bad hit,” he said. “Yahoo, I imagine for the foreseeable future will be in a position to command advertising revenues, but particularly small sites are being shredded by the slowdown. One site I’m acquainted with lost 96 per cent of its advertising revenue between the fourth quarter and the first. It’s absolutely ruinous.”

Yahoo, in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at