Yahoo gets more social

Yahoo may have thrown in the towel when it comes to search, but the company is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to its Yahoo Mail, Messenger, and a growing number of social networking features

Yahoo may have thrown in the towel when it comes to search, but the company is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to its Yahoo Mail, Messenger, and a growing number of social networking features. And Yahoo isn't content to rest on its laurels, as the company announced new features and deals this week designed to increase its social networking appeal.

On Tuesday, Yahoo announced it has agreed to acquire Maktoob.com, the Arab world's largest online community. Emerging countries are the regions where Yahoo is experiencing the fastest growth, and the Maktoob acquisition would give the company a larger influence in the area. Yahoo is expected to launch new products for the Arab world next year.

Also this week, Yahoo unveiled a more social Web mail interface, with Facebook-like newsfeed integration.

The new Web mail interface lets users update their status by answering the question "What are you doing right now?" in the same way Facebook used to do it. The resemblance goes as far as the status entry bar filling in for you "YourUsername is ...".

Has Yahoo Got its Social Networking Mojo Back?

Ironically, Yahoo departed the social networking arena when it closed down the 360 service in July, which couldn't compete with Facebook and MySpace over the last couple of years. So Yahoo is left only with Mail and Messenger.

The growing popularity of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace has put pressure on Yahoo to deliver on this front. In addition to photo-sharing enhancements and status updates in Mail, Yahoo also introduced full-screen high-quality video calling to Messenger.

Yahoo took the first steps towards a more social service last December, when it started rolling out its Open Strategy, aimed at opening all the company's sites and services to third party developers and create social profiles. Then in June, Yahoo beefed up services with over a dozen third-party widgets from PayPal, eBay and YouTube.

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