Yahoo 360 and RSS

By Ryan Naraine  |  Posted 2005-11-23 Print this article Print

"The Flickr deal was huge because it gave Yahoo instant street cred with bloggers," says Rafat Ali, managing partner at, a site that tracks the economics of content. "That credibility is important in the Web 2.0 world, where the user is in total control of the content."
Yahoo 360 and the RSS revolution
The Flickr purchase was the perfect complement to the Yahoo 360 social network, a service that combined a push-button blogging tool with the companys existing photo storage, Internet radio and instant messaging products. Yahoo 360 sets up a circle of social connections where users can mix, match and distribute content to each other from a single space. At the core of Yahoo 360 is the blogging service, which helps to power yet another spoke in the Web 2.0 wheel—the MyYahoo RSS aggregator. Scott Gatz, senior director of personalization products at Yahoo, says embrace of RSS across multiple Yahoo properties was among the most important strategic decisions made by senior executives. Gatz, who is responsible for all things RSS at Yahoo, has seen the content syndication technology move into the mainstream, giving Yahoo new and intriguing ways to let users create personalized media that can be accessed in multiple ways, whether on the Web or on mobile devices. Click here to read about Yahoos foray into social commerce. "We started publishing RSS feeds around the middle of 2003 with a plan to take RSS to the masses. We just had a few thousand users but once we got the MyYahoo aggregator out the door, things just exploded," Gatz said in an interview. "Now, were talking millions and millions of users consuming content via RSS on MyYahoo. It is the number one browser-based RSS reader today." Gatz declined to divulge usage stats, but of the 25 million MyYahoo users it is believed that more than one-quarter are consuming RSS feeds in the MyYahoo aggregator. "One of the key things for us is to be an open platform. We want to help consumers get what they want, how they want it. "User-created content fits in a huge way. Theres an immense amount of content becoming available on Web and the majority is user-generated," Gatz explained. "Theyre creating blogs, uploading digital photos, creating podcasts, posting on message boards. Ultimately, theres a nonstop conversation happening on the web with groups of people sharing their interests. The idea is to make it real simple for this conversation to happen," he said. Intrigued and encouraged by the explosion of RSS in the mainstream, Yahoo extended the technology and created the MediaRSS extension to allow content producers to submit audio material to its Yahoo Audio Search engine. "We talk about openness a lot here at Yahoo," Gatz said of the companys Web 2.0 strategy. "When you think of the Web and where things are going, there are three important audiences: the consumers, the publishers and the advertisers. "The lines are blurred these days because the consumer is now the publisher and the publisher is becoming the advertiser." The blurring of those lines has created new ways to make—and share—revenues. The companys ambitious plan is to use the YPN (Yahoo Publishers Network), a product that grew out of the acquisition of Overture, to distribute advertising across blogs and social networks and split the profits with the user community. "As a company, were helping everyone to make money from all these conversations that are happening," Gatz explained. "Anyone with a blog on Yahoo 360 can use YPN to publish ads. The focus is to turn consumers into publishers, give them the tools to express themselves and get new places to push relevant, contextual ads." Future tools and applications The RSS-powered tools are coming out of Yahoo at a rapid clip. A new podcast directory service lets users launch, search and browse audio content. "Weve watched the podcast community grow and thats another area we are excited about," Gatz said. Could video blogging and video uploads be on the cards next? For competitive reasons, Gatz and Horowitz declined to discuss future product plans but when the company looks at the Flickr community concept, its not a stretch to imagine a simplified video sharing service on the horizon. "We can Flickr-ize anything, if you think about it," Horowitz offered. Its a straightforward extrapolation. We can turn Flickr into video upload without too much work. We already have that Flickr community and we can extend that in various directions." Yahoo cozies up to bloggers. Click here to read more. The Yahoo Mail product is also undergoing a major makeover using technology acquired from Oddpost. Yahoo Mail now becomes a browser-based Outlook clone with a slick user interface. Then there is Konfabulator, another clever acquisition that led to the launch of Yahoo Widgets. Konfabulator makes a JavaScript run-time engine that allows users to create "Widgets" that perform simple tasks. Widgets can be used as browser-less gateways into Yahoos network of content, including those generated by millions of users. "The world of Web 2.0 is driven by distribution. All these acquisitions and products fit together in a thematic way," Horowitz said. "Its very easy to do because theyre all standards-based. Its more platform oriented and RSS-enabled in very interesting ways," Could there be a Yahoo Browser in the works? "Thats a very big question. Obviously, most of our users are coming through the browser today, but that will change as the mobile devices get smarter," Horowitz said. "More people are beginning to access Yahoo through mobile phones and set top boxes," he added. "Were paying attention to everything thats happening in the browser world, especially around Firefox and IE … I cant speak to specific product plans but were looking at everything." Horowitz continued: "We have a top-down mandate from the senior-most levels of the company to be an open platform based on industry standards. We dont want to be a walled garden. Instead, we want to facilitate people to be creative on the Web." Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.


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