Yahoo! 360 formally launched earlier this week — and everyone I try and invite has already been invited! That may be both good and bad for Yahoo!
Google€™s Gmail — the storage of which was just bumped to 2GB — used a very shrewd invitation-only strategy (and rationed those invitations) to create enormous buzz and a sense of exclusivity around Gmail accounts in the beginning.
A reporter I spoke with around the time of the Gmail beta launch (exactly a year ago) proudly announced to me, €œI€™m one of the Google beta testers€ (read: I€™m a member of the "in group").
Yahoo! is smartly making 360 invitation only to create some of the same viral momentum, but has given people 100 invitations to send out. A bit of trying to have it both ways: create exclusivity but try and generate broad usage simultaneously.
My initial reaction to 360 is that it offers an impressive array of features. It also represents an impressive bet that Yahoo! is making. And given that it€™s so public (at least in the world I live in), there are some high expectations.
It€™s a lot of stuff to knit together — and expect people to use. However that broad feature set offers the potential to deliver a lot of value to users. In my view there are two obvious, missing pieces: Yahoo! Mail and MyYahoo! integration. The former will no doubt be corrected in short order. The latter is a recommendation and may or may not be on the roadmap. (It probably is.)
We€™ll write more about Yahoo! 360 and its local implications in the Local Media Journal.
In other social networking news, The Kelsey Group has teamed up with LinkedIn to offer Drilling Down on Local conference attendees the opportunity to network with one another before, during and after the show. It€™s an interesting experiment and we€™ll see how it plays out.
If you€™re coming to the show (or thinking about it), check out the group. This special setup makes networking on LinkedIn somewhat more streamlined.
It€™s not clear how far and wide social networking and blogging (one of the central features of Yahoo! 360) will penetrate to the mainstream, but it€™s already clear that these tools and the emerging online culture of user-generated content are very much here to stay (some are even calling it "mature"!).