5 Things Yahoo Must Do for Summly To Succeed

Jessica Payne

Yahoo Inc. recently acquired Summly, a mobile app that lets you flick through online articles of interest, instantly summarized into bite-sized pieces. What’s more, these articles are perfectly fitted to the iPhone’s screen and include gorgeous photography. Revolutionary technology, no. But the $30 million purchase of Summly by Yahoo from 17 year-old founder Nick D’loisio reminds us all that the mobile industry has plenty of frontier for the taking.

More importantly, it begs the question: Is the acquisition a death knell for Summly or a boon for “the purple giant” to further its mobile efforts? Only time will tell.

Summly touts “beautiful and concise summaries.” Not exactly my first thought when I think of Yahoo’s homepage and the tomes of unwanted entertainment drivel – what Summly claims it hacks away. As of now, Summly is no longer available on the App Store. (boo) and users are told to consider that vacancy a “power nap” until it rolls back out somewhere on Yahoo properties. D’loisio is also now a full-time Yahoo employee.

Is this the shot in the arm Yahoo needs to rise above the din? Could be if they roll out the acquisition in the right way. Things to consider:

  • Don’t forget the Summly community. They’ll be watching the announcements and briefings to see where their community will go next. Yahoo shouldn’t downplay their strong loyalty and passion. Endorsements from them will win more super users and so on.
  • Focus on user experience. Summly users may not prefer Yahoo to Google or other resources. Yahoo shouldn’t focus on winning critics over as much as they should focus efforts on ensuring the app user experience is always excellent. This is the reality of what makes people stick with a brand.
  • Keep the brand entities separate. Branding should be subtle (if at all integrated) to ensure Summly’s “gorgeous” interface stays that way. No purple paint or copious Y’s please. The same could be said about spokespeople. Keep D’loisio as chief.
  • Hyper-target a phased roll-out. Many of us already prefer other platforms like Flipboard and even Twitter for beautiful, clipped news feeds. Nobody wants to use an app their parents like. Impress us though – we’re fickle too.
  • Offer something different. D’loisio’s personal brand of British cheekiness and brainpower is different; clever. This oozes into the app. Yahoo should aim to maintain that tone, not saddle it with corporate babble or a US-centric marketing campaign.

Lastly, work quickly. Yahoo! is seen by many as a bloated dinosaur incapable of agility so a quick, clever roll-out could do wonders for the brand as well as deflate critics. It will also ensure the “power nap” stays that way and Summly comes back stronger and more agile than ever with a delighted community ready to keep reading.

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