yahoo axisYahoo! started as a search engine, morphed into a content provider, and today, it’s hard to say exactly what Yahoo! is trying to be. In a blog post published by Yahoo! today, the company announced that it had taken the first step “toward the development of future products that are better aligned with Yahoo!’s holistic mobile strategy.” As Jason Del Rey of Advertising Age wrote today, “What that new strategy really means, and whether it will be more successful than other recent Yahoo! strategies remains to be seen.”

Here’s what we know so far. Today, Yahoo! pulled the plug on the 6-month old Livestand mobile newsstand app. The app offered content from Yahoo! and third party publishers with advertising packages starting at $500,000 according to Ad Age. The app received good reviews, but it was late to the party. Now, it has no chance to catch up, because Yahoo! shut down Livestand. Regan Clark of Yahoo! wrote on the Yahoo! blog:

“We’ve decided to discontinue or consolidate a number of products across Yahoo!’s technology platforms over the course of 2012. Platform consolidation enables us to put many Yahoo! properties onto common key platforms and technologies to make everything more scalable and nimble. And when we discontinue products, it will be so that we can focus on opportunities where we lead and where we can create the most meaningful experiences for people using our products, and for our partners, developers and advertisers. One of the first decisions we’ve made along these lines is to discontinue our personalized digital newsstand app, Livestand for iPad.”

The first new mobile product released as part of this new strategy was conveniently announced on the Yahoo! blog earlier this week. It’s called Yahoo! Axis and is being hyped as the “new way to search and browse the web across any device.” It delivers visual search results as people type and works on Apple iOS devices as well as “major, HTML5 enabled desktop browers [using a downloadable] desktop plugin.”

Yahoo! Axis does look interesting, as you can see in the demonstration video below.

Yahoo! Axis could be useful. For example, Yahoo! Axis offers visual search results that users can view and interact with without leaving the page. Users can also create personalized home pages that enable them to save pages for later and pick up where they left off on another device. Twitter and Pinterest sharing buttons are also integrated into Yahoo! Axis.

But will this week’s announcements be the first step that actually sends Yahoo! in the right direction to finally redefine itself using a strategy that will work in the long-term. That remains to be seen.

Image: Yahoo! Axis