April 25, 2008

Yahoo to Add Social Networking Elements

Yahoo plans to revamp its site to make it easier for users to manage its tools in a format similar to that of popular social networking sites.

Ari Balogh, chief technology officer at Yahoo spoke to an audience at this year's Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

"We are literally in the process of rewiring Yahoo from the inside out," Balogh said in his speech.

By initiating "Yahoo Open Strategy" the firm said it hopes to remove the barriers between each of its Web based services so that users will only have to visit one site to manage all of Yahoo's utilities.

Yahoo has been actively buying up many home-grown services such as photo-sharing site Flickr, bookmarking site Del.icio.us and social calendar site Upcoming.

However, Yahoo insists that it hopes to become more efficient for its users, but is not aiming to become a social network.

"We are not building another social network," said Mr Balogh. "We are building social into everything we do."

"Social is not a destination -- it's a dimension and it will infuse all aspects of a consumer's experience on the Web."

Balogh estimated there are more than 10 billion latent social connections that exist between Yahoo's 500 million monthly users in the form of e-mail addresses, instant message buddy lists, address books and other shared connections.

"Right now you manage different bits of personal information in different places and to some extent it is a fragmented user experience," said Neal Sample, chief technical architect of Yahoo's Open Strategy.

Charlene Li, vice president and senior analyst at Forrester Research firm acknowledged Yahoo's new initiatives.

"My hat goes off to Yahoo that they have been able to execute this in a very difficult and stressful time for them on a strategy that I think is potentially very interesting," Li said.

"It will be interesting to see how quickly the other players -- like Google, Microsoft, MySpace, and Facebook -- answer the challenge that Yahoo has set down."

"I don't think it's a matter of if, but rather, a question of when," she wrote in a blog post.

Yahoo also announced on Thursday a three-year advertising and content-sharing partnership with CNet Networks Inc., an online entertainment and technology news service.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is still involved in a $44 billion unsolicited takeover offer initiated by Microsoft.

Microsoft has given Yahoo a deadline of Saturday to agree to a deal on or face a hostile takeover campaign. The software giant said on Thursday it will announce whether it plans to proceed with a deal or pull out next week.


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