AOL, Yahoo Will Add Life Streams to Their Popular Web Services

The growing popularity of Twitter and Facebook’s news feed functionality has made everyone embrace life streaming — essentially a way for us to broadcast our daily digital lives via photos, videos, postings and status updates — as a way to consume information. In a matter of months, expect both Yahoo and AOL to come up with their own news feed offerings, likely to be embedded in their more popular web services.

While Yahoo’s working on a life-streaming product called Yahoo Updates, AOL’s new offering, which takes a cue from Facebook Connect, is being called “Site Social” internally.Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which are taking advantage of their own social graphs, Yahoo is likely to introduce “life streaming” into its very popular email service. Other details about this service are yet to be revealed, but Yahoo has been working on making its email more social.

Similarly, AOL will leverage its instant messaging client installed base to introduce its own version of life streaming. Essentially, the new AIM client would adopt a tab-like structure where one of the tabs would be like your plain old AIM friends lists. A new tab will be used to life stream information that will come into the client from various sources.

This life-streaming technology is being based on the news feeds currently being offered on Bebo, a social network that AOL acquired for $850 million in cash last year. The social network, ICQ and AIM are now part of an AOL division called People’s Networks. AOL introduced a brand-new feed for Bebo last last year, and I’m guessing they’re using 30 million-plus AIM clients and another 35 million-odd ICQ clients to push these streams. David Liu, senior V-P and general manager at AOL’s People Networks, said in a briefing last week that details about this new service would emerge over the next few months.

AOL is planning to support Facebook Connect, Twitter and other sources (including Open Social). Liu said that the focus will be on content. Time Warner and AOL have a lot of content properties; the AOL life streams would help the companies focus on boosting their content discovery and sharing.
Whatever form AOL and Yahoo’s life-streaming efforts take, there’s no denying that the post-broadband era needs a different kind of media consumption paradigm.
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