Yahoo is looking to give users an easier way to organize, search for and share favorite sites or Web pages, the company said on Tuesday.
It is also introducing a simplified version of the Yahoo toolbar that
features a one-click way to bookmark Web pages. The toolbar is a menu of
key Yahoo services that is embedded along the top border of Web browser
The moves are part of a careful, go-slow plan by Yahoo to convince
millions more of its users to embrace the new generation of Web surfing
tools that allow consumers to share what they learn with friends or
These technologies are known as collaborative filtering or social media.
Yet, while popular among tech-savvy users, the vast majority of casual Web
users still find such technologies confusing to use.
"We expect that, over time, users will start sharing bookmarks more
readily," said Tomi Poutanen, product manager of Yahoo's social search
business. "There is a lot more that can be done around bookmarks than what
is (now) done," he said.
Bookmarks, also known as favorites, are the main way Web users remember
interesting sites to return to later. They are a basic feature of browser
software. The big drawback is most users have no idea how to save
bookmarks when they switch computers or browsers, nor how to share
bookmarks with friends.
Yahoo already offers several alternatives. Yahoo Bookmarks, a kind of
personal online storage locker, gives individuals access to favorite sites
from any Web-connected computers.
Del.icio.us was acquired by Yahoo in late 2005 and attracts a devoted
crowd of sophisticated Internet users. But it is a tough sell to
mainstream audiences. It's grown from 300,000 users late last year to more
than 1 million. By contrast, Yahoo Bookmarks service for individual users
has 20 million users.
The new version of Yahoo Bookmarks at http://new.bookmarks.yahoo.com,
offers several improvements on organizing bookmarks into folders to make
them easier to find. But it also encourages users to try "tagging," a more
modern way of organizing information that relies on users assigning
keywords to personally important information to make it easier to search
for and find such information again later.
Yahoo Bookmarks also introduces the concept of social bookmarks by
allowing users to send favorite links to friends via built-in e-mail or
instant message links. It gives more visual clues than does Del.icio.us to
help users learn how to "tag," or identify favorite sites. "It provides a
way for people to become more comfortable with tagging," Poutanen said.
Yahoo officials are happy to describe the new technology as transitional
-- a compromise between the clunky convenience of older bookmark services
and the new world of shared bookmarks that have many advantages that leave
most users confused.
Call it Web 1.5 -- half way between the static Web pages and so-called Web
2.0, the new generation of Internet technology that encourages users to
interact through browsers with other users to share what they know.
The new bookmark and toolbar products are available in the United States,
Germany and Taiwan, with other countries to follow.
The new Yahoo toolbar allows users to create an unlimited number of
personalized link buttons for fast access to favorite Web sites. Further
details are at http://toolbar.yahoo.com/.