Yahoo dips its toes in the blogging waters

The first blogging service to bear the Yahoo name has been launched by Yahoo Korea.

Developed in-house by the Seoul-based subsidiary of Yahoo Inc., Yahoo Blog went live on Thursday and is the first blogging service offered to users on the Yahoo network sites, said Brian Kim, a spokesman for Yahoo Korea.

"Blogging is not popular yet (in South Korea) although we think it will get popular like other community services," Kim said. The service is available free to Yahoo users and is competing against blogging services launched by portal competitors such as NHN Corp.'s Naver and KT Corp.'s Hanmir, he said.

"Now (Yahoo Blog) can only be accessed from a personal computer but we are planning a service through mobile phones," Kim said.

Kim didn't know if other Yahoo portals were planning to follow the lead of Yahoo Korea by launching blogging services.

Blogging is one of the newest Internet trends and is beginning to develop a cult-like following. It involves Internet users publishing an online journal, often of their thoughts and musings on life, issues of the day or, more often than not, pointers to things they have read on other blogs.

As its popularity rises, some of Yahoo's U.S. rivals are launching blogging services of their own.

America Online Inc. announced Monday the launch of AOL Journals, which is a blogging service for its members. Users can access and update their blogs via PC, text message, instant message and telephone. The service supports both text and images, the company said in a statement. Lycos Inc. also offers blogging as part of its Tripod home page service although another of Yahoo's rivals, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, has yet to announce a service.

One of the first major moves by a portal or search service to get a slice of the blogging pie came earlier this year when Google Inc. acquired Pyra Labs Inc., the company behind the Blogger Web site. Google, one of Yahoo's biggest competitors in the search market, has built direct links and support for Blogger into the latest version of its toolbar application for Internet Explorer.

However, a recent report by Forrester Research Inc. indicated that blogging is still anything but mainstream. Data from two of the company's recent surveys of U.S. Internet users found two percent of online households access a blog at least once a week and Forrester characterized the average blog reader as a "young, nerdy male."

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Martyn Williams

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