Email Becomes Center of Social Networks?

Every few weeks, the blogosphere likes to regurgitate information that it previously discussed a few weeks ago. This is the case with the most recent post by Saul Hansell in which he discusses Yahoo and Google’s intention to turn their email services and start pages into social networks. While this is could be a big announcement, much of it has been previously covered in the press. The real news here is that Yahoo is going to follow in Google’s footsteps into the social networking space via similar tactics that Google will utilize in their Open Social project.

According to Marshall Kirkpatrick, “In the future, Yahoo! mail will include a feed of info about your friends’ activities, just like Facebook.” Google plans on offering a similar feed that they will build using Google Reader technology. At least that’s what Mike Arrington posted when he broke the news about OpenSocial plans. The duplication of the Facebook newsfeed by all the large players shows how large an impact Facebook had within the industry.

This sudden shift by the industry to become more social is why I set up this blog in the first place. It appears that Yahoo! is about to enter the fold as well and all of this occurs outside of their failed Yahoo Mash project. Brad Garlinghouse’s peanut butter manifesto seems to be getting smeared all over the place and Yahoo has returned to an unfocused media behemoth. No wonder their quarterly earnings continue to disappoint analysts. The only question that I have now is whether or not Google is going to be thrown off track by their OpenSocial initiative.

As I posted on AllFacebook last week, OpenSocial is currently 3 XML schemas and a few JavaScript libraries so I don’t think they have dedicated too many resources to implementing OpenSocial. If we start seeing a significant shift in resources I would start to become concerned for Google as well. I think they know better though. While the big players shouldn’t invest too heavily in social, I obviously think that social is the way of the web. Some investment is necessary but unfortunately no monetization model has been proven effective yet. Facebook hopes to prove their new Social Ads system is the answer. We’ll see how it pans out.

In the mean time, Yahoo! and Google will continue to invest in making the web a better place for socially connecting. Some of this connecting will take place via email. I guess some things never change! I’m not quite sure how I feel about using my email for the center of my social network but maybe my feelings will change once it launches. Will you want your email to be the center of your social network?