For most search and social media companies—from Google to Facebook to Microsoft—mobile is the future. Yahoo believes the same, with CEO Carol Bartz arguing recently that the field is "extremely important" to the Internet giant.
Yet during an earnings call Tuesday, when it came to showing progress on Yahoo's transition from the desktop to mobile, in terms of search, company heads struggled to answer analyst questions.
"On mobile, honestly, I don't have any data," CFO Tim Morse told investors, after being prodded on the subject by an analyst. "Mobile is obviously an extremely big focus area for us—it's a big growth area for us—but I haven't seen any breakdown of share on that. It's unquestionably early going."
The breakdown is not only available, it shows Yahoo's competitors having already gained seemingly insurmountable advantages. Though Morse specified that Yahoo creates products, including search, with "mobile in mind first," the once-dominant search engine lags far behind Google. A recent report pegged Google's mobile search market share at a whopping 98.29%. And Yahoo and Bing are nowhere near a close second and third, with their mobile shares at 0.81% and 0.46%, respectively.
Google is the default search engine on iPhone and Android devices—that's the central reason for Google's monopoly in mobile search, and Carol Bartz quickly interrupted Morse to parrot this sentiment.
"Obviously we have a bit of a disadvantage since Android is loaded with Google search," said Bartz. "However, there are a lot of folks in the mobile business, whether it's operators or third parties, who are very interested in our applications and our search—for obvious reasons."
But with a minuscule market share and outsourced search technology, perhaps the reasons for using Yahoo's mobile search are not actually so "obvious."