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Yahoo Scales Back Mobile Apps for iPhone Focus

Amid Yahoo's efforts to strengthen its hand in mobile search, it's paring down its smartphone application development efforts, enabling it to concentrate instead on apps for the Apple iPhone.

Beta testers of Yahoo's mobile Java-based app this week received an e-mail stating that Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) "ceased development" of the application and that, for now, the company will "focus efforts on the newly launched Yahoo Mobile experience for browsers and for the iPhone."

Yet Yahoo officials said that the company isn't entirely abandoning the effort to create mobile apps for other platforms, and reports indicate that it may be planning to create one with a different design than its now-scrapped application.

For now, at least, the latest developments mean that users without Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhones will have to access Yahoo's mobile content through its recently redesigned mobile site.

The news comes on the heels of the official launch in April of Yahoo Mobile Web and its iPhone app, which marked the latest in Yahoo's ongoing efforts to expand its strength in wireless Internet and mobile apps -- already established as fast-growing sectors for developers and online firms.

In the past year, the pioneering Web portal and search engine has focused on efforts in third-party mobile application development and mobile search.

Yet Yahoo insists that this week's news isn't a sign of retreat.

"We're on a thousand different devices and we just launched m.yahoo.com on 300 mobile devices," said Mark Davis, Yahoo Mobile's chief scientist, at a media event in San Francisco yesterday.

Davis said he personally uses a BlackBerry and Yahoo's oneSearch every day.

"We're focusing on where we see consumers going and we're very committed to the BlackBerry and that will continue," he said. "You'll also see client apps as well."

Additionally, a Yahoo spokesperson pointed to the company's other non-iPhone applications, citing a lineup across a number of mobile platforms.

"For example, we have the Yahoo oneSearch shortcut and Yahoo oneSearch with voice on Nokia, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile," the spokesperson told InternetNews.com. "We also have Yahoo Messenger and Flickr are available on BlackBerry. We will continue developing new and engaging experiences for consumers across various devices and platforms, including [BlackBerry], Apple, Widows Mobile, and Nokia."

Still, Davis said yesterday that Yahoo's main efforts would be on mobile Web efforts, as opposed to those designed specifically for client devices.

Update adds comment from Yahoo spokesperson. InternetNews.com West Coast Bureau Chief David Needle contributed to this story.