When it comes to online calendars and calendar apps, services like Google Calendar and Outlook from Microsoft reign supreme, with hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Now, another company is hoping to ruffle some feathers with its own entry into the space.
TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Yahoo is developing Day, a new standalone calendar app. According to sources, the company has hired Jeremy Le Van, who co-founded another calendaring app, Sunrise, and eventually sold it to Microsoft for more than $100 million to become the backbone of Microsoft’s own very popular calendar platform in Outlook.
Many people lamented the demise of Sunrise; now, it appears that they may have a chance to get Sunrise 2.0, so to speak.
“We are exploring different ways to better serve consumers, including new ideas around mobile-first time management, calendar, and events,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in response to our inquiry.
The service is currently in an invite-only closed alpha phase as it prepares for a larger launch (you can also sign up on the site).
Calendars are the foundation for how many of us organize our days, whether for work or pleasure. And, arguably, the more our activities, and the planning of them, move to digital platforms, the more powerful calendars can become.
This means that having a calendar feature or app as part of a larger service is a good way for platforms to keep users engaged on the platform as a whole, as well as a way for the platform to gain more knowledge about user behavior. Google Calendar, for example, is tightly and frequently automatically integrated with the company’s broader suite of productivity and information services, giving the company one more spoke in its wheel to keep users coming back.
And it’s not just Yahoo that might be interested in doing more in this area. Facebook allegedly acquired Redkix in 2018 in order to add more calendar and other productivity tools to Workplace. Finally, Workplace integrates with third-party offerings, so it lacks a standalone calendar app.
Facebook’s main consumer app also lacks a standalone calendar feature. But, with people planning so much else on Facebook’s properties (not just through Events on Facebook, but also across Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger), it appears that it’s an area it could still expand into at some point.
Yahoo, in fact, already has a pared-down calendar widget that you can access via Yahoo Mail. It’s unclear how popular it is, especially given how simple it is to integrate one’s email with most other calendar apps these days.
The question will then be how Day intends to differentiate itself and compete.
Contrary to how Google, Microsoft, and even Yahoo itself currently integrate calendar features into their larger productivity suites, this is not the approach that Yahoo is taking with Day, according to what we understand.
The app is being built by Yahoo’s Mail team, but it’s being treated “like a startup” in the operation, with a license to develop it independently: it has no special Yahoo branding and no Yahoo integrations.
The plan is to keep it separate, similar to the many calendar apps — like Sunrise once was — that exist in app stores, and to make it something that can integrate with whatever other email or other tools a person uses. Over time, there may be efforts to use Mail — which still has around 200 million users — to help market Day.
The move demonstrates how Yahoo — which has effectively lost out to Google in areas such as search, email, video, and advertising — believes that with the right approach, there is still room for more innovation in this crowded market, even though it has a history of failing to do so in other areas, such as messaging.
However, as we noted in a recent story about Calendly — a $3 billion startup that has proven to be a big hit with people who need to schedule meetings — calendar apps can be difficult for another reason.
Calendars are widely used, but they are also somewhat underappreciated: they are never the destination for a person, only a place to mark when, how, and with whom you will arrive. Can you think of any other ways to improve that basic functionality?
Yahoo appears to believe there are, and that people will want to use an app that does so.