Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who Needs Another Social Network?

When it comes to becoming a force in social networks, Google and Yahoo have tried and largely failed. To be sure, Google has Orkut, which is popular in Brazil and the Philippines, but not the United States. For its part, Yahoo has largely pulled the plug on Yahoo 360. But it is clear that MySpace and Facebook (and Bebo in the United Kingdom) remain firmly on top of the social network heap.

So now Google and Yahoo are taking another tack — turning themselves into social sites without building a social network.

“We are not trying to be another social network,” said Yahoo president Susan Decker on Tuesday, during the company’s earnings conference call. “Rather, by linking users’ favorite destinations and content, with their friends’ families and communities, we can deliver better relevance on a scale that no one else has achieved.” Two days later, the company’s new chief technology officer, Ari Balogh, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, elaborated a bit on the idea. “We don’t think of social as a destination,” Mr. Balogh said. “We think of social as a dimension.”

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