Yahoo will be going back to its roots to bring the best of the web to our fingertips, according to the company's European MD Toby Coppel.

In a showcase of its product developments for 2009, Yahoo showed off its new homepage – with a marked reduction on its own content, webmail that brings Facebook-esque friend updates and web applications and some fairly nifty mobile search programs.

European managing director Toby Copel told journalists that going back to its original concept was central to Yahoo's future.

"Today the key direction for us is around what we call the open internet," said Copel.

"To find out what that really means you have to go back to the roots of what Yahoo was; to bring you the best of the web so you can find it – that's where the focus is now."

Third-party applications

A focus on combining existing tools with third party applications – a concept that is proliferating through the likes of Apple's iPhone, Facebook, Windows Vista and Google's homepage – linked many of Yahoo's products together, something that Copel was keen to dwell on.

"Users want access to innovations, so part of our strategy is to bring the best of the web to right in front of you so you can interact with it without having to do very much work," Copel said.

"We'll also do work for you behind the scenes so you can find out what's happening, looking at what's happening on the web and the people who are relevant to your life – bringing a lot of that to you and to a much more relevant personalised experience.

"Today, the level of intelligence that a lot of websites use to create those experiences is relatively low compared to where we think it could be.

"You'll hear a lot [from Yahoo] about intelligent tools that work out what you do and what you want to do and bring that to you."

New homepage

Central to Yahoo's success will be the switch to a new homepage that focuses much more on personalisation than providing content; although the promise of openness is still limited at this (admittedly beta) stage by ongoing discussions as to exactly what third-party content will be allowed to be displayed on the page, and the vetting process for the third-party developed modules.

"Our new homepage – which we put into beta release to a small percentage of our users two weeks ago – is all about being the indispensable starting point, bringing in the applications that you care about," added Copel.

"So if you are one of those original eBay users who in 1995 used to trade Pez dispensers, and you still do that, you can have your eBay app on your homepage. You can track the auctions that you are bidding on and you are watching right there without going to eBay.

"Any developer can create any application that can then plug into our homepage to make it much more open in terms of allowing people to tap into innovation."