Yahoo has upgraded Yahoo Calendar, the tool in Yahoo Web Mail that lets users add information about events and appointments and receive alerts about when they're occurring.
Rolling out as a beta to some users Oct. 8, Yahoo Calendar has for the first time been built on the Zimbra platform, which supports the iCal (iCalendar) and CalDAV3 standards. This enables Yahoo Calendar to work with rival online calendar services from Google, Microsoft, Apple, AOL and Mozilla, allowing users to share their calendar data with friends or colleagues.
This is a big improvement. Yahoo Calendar is only used by about 8 million users per month, while some 278 million people use the Yahoo Mail Web application per month.
By opening Yahoo Calendar to work with other iCal-supporting calendar applications from big rivals such as Google and Microsoft, Yahoo could endear itself to more users. That's what Yahoo hopes, anyway.
Yahoo Calendar has several new features, including the ability to set instant messaging or SMS (Short Message Service) reminders for events and a to-do list.
The application also lets Yahoo Mail users track activities through color-coding, drag and drop appointments, and zoom in and out of a wall calendar view to a single event. The tool also uses Flickr photos to mimic the feel of a real wall calendar. See more details and pictures here at ReadWriteWeb.
Eventually, the application will automatically sync with Microsoft Outlook and the Apple iPhone, according to Yahoo Mail Vice President John Kremer, who wrote in a blog post:
"Imagine being able to download your favorite sports team's schedule, your class schedule, or your child's t-ball schedule and being constantly on top of everything. That's coming soon, along with additional event discovery features, including integration with Upcoming.org and other Yahoo properties."
The current beta is being rolled out in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India and Taiwan, with plans for global availability later in 2008.
Yahoo Calendar is but one feature of Yahoo's grand plan of providing its users with a "smarter inbox," one of the goals of the Yahoo Open Strategy and the move to appeal to more users.
I liked YOS when Yahoo announced it in April, but I'm not sure how the public will receive it when it's completely iterated. Is the public ready for Yahoo's take on a social network? Because that's what the collaboration part of YOS feels like-another Facebook or MySpace, but with Yahoo's bigger user base and greater technology clout.
Yahoo proved it could continue to innovate during Microsoft's unsolicited takeover bid and has clearly continued along that path after its escape from Microsoft's clutches, but will users respond positively to the changes? How will Yahoo profit from them?
The answers to these questions are unclear.