Yahoo Messenger deepens social networking features

Yahoo will upgrade its Messenger IM service with more social networking features.

Yahoo, disconcertingly unable to develop a popular social networking site, will try to accentuate the social networking capabilities of Yahoo Messenger when it releases on Tuesday a beta upgrade of this widely used instant messaging service.

Among its new features, Yahoo Messenger 9.0 will allow people to invite friends to watch videos or flip through photo albums in real time, sharing those activities as if they were sitting side by side in one's living room.

Made possible by what Yahoo calls an "in-line media player," this feature is one of several new ones designed to boost interactions among Messenger users.

Another such feature is a redesigned "friends" list that provides more space for each contact entry and makes it easier to establish an IM, voice or SMS link with another user.

Now the question is whether Yahoo plans to leverage the more than 94 million people who use Messenger and build a social network around that base, giving the company, finally, an answer to MySpace and Facebook.

While she wouldn't provide a direct answer to this question, Sabrina Ellis, vice president of Yahoo Messenger, acknowledged that the service has an inherent social networking component.

"In some ways, if you look at it, Yahoo Messenger is a social network in that people have actually defined who their friends are and these are people they communicate with," Ellis said.

The new features, such as the ability to share and watch videos virtually together, will let people deepen their interactions on Yahoo Messenger beyond what has been possible so far, she said.

"These elements will really help people develop relationships and expand some of their friendships," Ellis said.

According to comScore, last month Yahoo Messenger had 94.3 million unique users, up almost 30 percent from September 2006 and second worldwide to Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger with almost 227 million.

Still, Yahoo hasn't been able to find its groove in social networking. It recently announced it will phase out its social networking site Yahoo 360 and migrate its features and content to a "universal profile system" that will more closely tie Yahoo's various online services together.

Asked how Yahoo Messenger will fit within this integrated, centralized platform, Ellis said the IM service will be part of that effort, along with Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Answers and other services.

"We're committed to making sure that all of our users can benefit from all different Yahoo services," she said.

Other new features in the beta version of Yahoo Messenger 9.0 include the following:

  • Localized versions for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India (in Hindi) and Vietnam
  • The ability to transfer an unlimited number of files of up to 2G bytes in size each.
  • Call forwarding, to send calls from Yahoo Messenger to a mobile phone or landline as a voicemail
  • The ability to share photo sets from Yahoo's Flickr service in real time

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?