Yahoo hints at social networking service

Yahoo on Wednesday dropped hints of growing interest in social networking services for search, coming after announcements of efforts from rivals Google and Microsoft.

Tim Cadogan, Yahoo’s vice president for search, said the company sees a future in which people can share their Web searches with friends.

“A lot of the Web is about sharing,” Cadogan said, speaking to an audience at Stanford Business School’s first annual technology conference.

He pointed to a fairly new feature from Yahoo that lets people in remote locations search simultaneously by using IM environments in Yahoo instant messenger. “This is just the beginning. A lot more will come from that,” said Cadogan, a former executive at Overture Services who joined Yahoo when it bought the commercial search pioneer.

Social networking is all the rage among portals and search providers. Two weeks ago, Microsoft’s MSN Web unit discussed introducing a social networking service based on the IM architecture later this year.

Meanwhile, Google recently began testing Orkut, an online social networking site that was created by several of its engineers in their free time. It is still under development, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company plans to officially launch it when it’s ready. The service will help give Google valuable registration data from subscribers, he said.

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