Lycos to test new social networking service

Lycos will begin testing a social networking service on Tuesday called Planet, which it imported and adapted from its South Korean parent company.

After pulling the plug on its Circles social networking service, Lycos is taking another swing at this market, testing a new service imported from its South Korean parent company Daum Communications.

Circles, launched in test, or beta, mode in October of last year, was closed this month, and in its place Lycos will officially launch Planet on Tuesday, although the service has been operational for a few weeks.

Lycos didn't provide a way for users who had set up Circles pages to transfer that content over to Planet. Users can sign up for Planet, which is in beta mode and free, at http://www.planet.lycos.com.

What sets Planet apart from other social networking sites is its emphasis on enabling non-technically savvy users to easily create and share interactive multimedia content, said Brian Kalinowski, Lycos' chief operating officer.

"Planet is about content creation: taking static media, such as text, photos or sound, and manipulating it into an interactive experience," he said. Planet provides users with easy-to-use and intuitive tools to create things such as animation and special graphics effects, he said.

Users will be able to control access to their Planet pages, he said. Planet, designed to appeal to users in their teens and early to mid-20s, also incorporates features for users to keep online journals, or blogs, and to share photos.

A few things Planet doesn't yet feature include mobile access to the service, RSS content syndication capabilities and integration with Lycos' Web mail service for message arrival notification. However, Lycos will be paying close attention to features users request, and plans to increase Planet's capabilities to meet user demands, he said.

The original Planet social network Daum launched in South Korea about a year ago already has about 8.8 million registered users, he said. Kalinowski expects that within its first year of operation, millions of users will register for Lycos version of Planet. "It's a very viral application that should have no problem garnering users in the millions," he said.

In the social networking market, Yahoo is also testing a service called Yahoo 360, while Microsoft has its own service, which exited beta in April, called MSN Spaces. Google is testing a social networking service Orkut, which, unlike Yahoo's and Lycos', is available via invitation only.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

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