Summary:

By Jemima Kiss: It is noticeably quieter on the Bebo front since the AOL acquisition, with new features rolled our modestly and with little…

By Jemima Kiss: It is noticeably quieter on the Bebo front since the AOL acquisition, with new features rolled our modestly and with little fanfare around those web-exclusive dramas with which Bebo’s management hoped to distinguish them from the other social networking sites and demonstrate their commercial value.

But evidently some development has still being going on under the bonnet, because the site is introducing a FriendFeed-esque lifestream that aggregates Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Delicious updates all in one place – on the front of your Bebo profile.

This looks exactly like Facebook’s newsfeed but is far more useful. You can’t blame Bebo for using a proven format as ‘inspiration’. Despite the hoo-ha about use of personal data when Facebook’s newsfeed first rolled out, it rapidly became one of the most useful elements of Facebook, giving a sense of immediacy and activity and drawing users into the site.

Bebo is calling this its “Lifestream Platform’, and says that you can sign up to get updates from your friends social media sites even if they don’t have a Bebo account. So a Bebo user could follow a friends Flickr stream, for example, even if they don’t use Bebo. The stream includes a comments function (yes – that’s familiar too) and Bebo is also pushing this as a way that brands and celebrities can centralise updates for fans and followers who want all the relevant social media updates in one place. Users will need to entrust Bebo with their passwords for each of the services they want to add to their ‘lifestream’, however.

Bebo is keen to point out that this is different to Facebook, partly because the stream will be integrated with AOL’s AIM and ICQ messaging services. “We operate at a different layer than Facebook. Facebook is a closed, proprietary network that brings friends together through one website. We help people connect with everyone and everything they care about, irrespective of which service they use. We do this through our Lifestream platform using the web, desktop clients and mobile devices. Our goal is to enable our users to find everything on our service without having to host everything in our service.”

It’s a logical enough step, and one that Bebo has been clever to introduce ahead of Facebook and Bebo, but it is inevitable that every social media service is heading towards this kind of aggregation. Whether it will actually bring them any more new users is questionable.

Robert adds: This follows Bebo’s addition late last year of Social Inbox, which pulls in mail and selected content feeds from off-site services. TechCrunch says it’s the first of AOL (NYSE: TWX) People Networks’ expected new products, also including a personal timeline feature dubbed Life Story and migrating AIM Profiles users to Bebo profiles later this week.

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This article originally appeared in © Guardian News & Media Ltd..

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