at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Yahoo! and Google, the new, old social network

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2007 at 12:09 am

Ignore Orkut, OpenSocial, Yahoo Mash and Yahoo 360. Google and Yahoo have come up with new and very similar plans to respond to the challenge from MySpace and Facebook: They hope to turn their e-mail systems and personalized home page services (iGoogle and MyYahoo) into social networks.

Web-based e-mail systems already contain much of what Facebook calls the social graph — the connections between people. That’s why the social networks offer to import the e-mail address books of new users to jump-start their list of friends. Yahoo and Google realize that they have this information and can use it to build their own services that connect people to their contacts.

I suppose this news could be filed in the ‘obvious’ folder but it is surprising how long it has taken Yahoo! and Google to catch on in this regard. With social networks on the rise in terms of page views and time spent on-site, they are emerging as the big competitors to the traditional communications providers. And the other truism from mail-centric communication brands is that they are incredibly sticky once users have established an identity and address book of contacts. Users are loathe to leave, even if the service level dips or new competitors enter the scene. This is why you can still find otherwise intelligent people with the email address ‘name@aol.com.’

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