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March 16, 2005

Yahoo To Combine Blogs And Social Networking

Courtesy of InternetWeek

Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday said it would launch in beta at the end of the month a service that combines web logs with social networking.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said Yahoo 360, which would be available on an invitation-only basis starting March 29, would enable consumers to draw content from the portal's services and post it on their Yahoo-hosted web logs, or blogs. The content could be pulled from discussion groups, online photo albums and Yahoo's review section, which includes movies, restaurants and music.

In addition, consumers would be able to view their friends' blogs through their personalized My Yahoo home page, the company's mobile Internet service or through any RSS reader, which is used to view syndicated web content.

Bloggers would have the option of sharing their personal web journals with only a select group of family and friends, or publish them publicly. The new service also lets consumers search for Yahoo 360 members who have similar interests.

Yahoo's instant messaging service would also be integrated into the new service.

"Consumers are looking for a new type of service that takes the best of first generation social-networking services and successfully integrates it with communications, self-publishing and community tools," Dan Rosensweig, chief operating officer of Yahoo, said in a statement.

By combining blogs with social networking, Yahoo could expand its advertising opportunities by offering advertisers the ability to reach online communities with specific interests.

Blogs have become a key part of online culture, with 8 million U.S. adults saying they have created blogs, according to researcher Pew Internet and American Life Project. Fully 27 percent of Internet users read blogs, and 5 percent use RSS readers to get news and other information delivered from blogs.

Nevertheless, bloggers and their readers are still in a minority, with 62 percent of Internet users saying they do not know what a blog is, Pew said.

Besides Yahoo, search-engine rivals Google Inc., Microsoft's and Ask Jeeves Inc. are involved with blogs. Google is also testing a social-networking service, which it calls Orkut.

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