At the Web 2.0 Expo yesterday in San Francisco, Yahoo unveiled a new and bold strategy to join up its Internet properties into one giant macro social network. CTO Ari Balogh told attendees: "We are rewiring Yahoo from the inside out with a developer platform that will open up the assets of Yahoo in a way never done before, making the consumer experience social throughout and provide hooks to developers."
The ambitious project known as Yahoo Open Strategy will see Yahoo expose its "10 billion latent connections across its properties, such as mail, messenger and fantasy sports", reports Dan Farber. Users will be given a central profile across all Yahoo sites, instead of the disjointed and somewhat replicated experience that currently exists, and one in which they'll be able to customize by adding applications including those developed by third parties built on top of Yahoo's support for Open Social, as well as take advantage of the usual social networking functionality e.g. friend lists, updates etc. It won't just be a user's profile that can be customized, however. Instead, users will be able to add Yahoo-created and third party apps to other areas of Yahoo such as the company's homepage - yahoo.com - as well as a Yahoo Mail welcome page. In one example given, the Yahoo "in-box" was shown receiving notifications and updates from "friends" across Yahoo properties, not unlike Facebook's mini-feed.
The end result is that Yahoo and all of its properties will transition into a macro social networking platform in which third-party developers can write applications that leverage the currently hidden or underutilized social graph that Yahoo holds and plans to expand on -- and users get a highly personalized, more coherent and social experience right the way across Yahoo's multiple sites.
"We are not creating another social network. We will rewire the entire experience to make it social. We don't think of social as a destination but as a dimension," Balogh said, echoing my long held view that social networking is a feature as much as it is a product.
The first version of Yahoo Open, including the social graph and tools for developers, as well as event stream feeds, will be rolled out later this year.