Yahoo is making good on its promise to rewire itself by opening its data and tools to developers so they can build customised applications.
"We're rolling out a social platform that will draw on the hundreds of millions of connections on Yahoo - everything from random encounters with someone who commented on the same photo as you, to deep connections you have with friends who know nearly everything about you," noted Jay Rossiter, Yahoo's senior vice president of its Open Strategy. "By using the social contacts you already have on Yahoo - through Mail, Messenger, Flickr, Finance, Fantasy Sports, etc. - we'll make those social connections more active and useful."
Allowing developers to make a social connection specific to a Yahoo service can easily lead to the building of unique new applications, Rossiter added. For example, a new application could be built to help users see what their friends are doing on Yahoo, such as entering ratings on Yahoo Movies or submitting an article to Yahoo Buzz.
"Basically, we're letting developers centralise anything you do on the Web as an update on our platform - with your explicit permission, of course," Rossiter added. "Publishers love this because they get exposed to more visitors whose friends implicitly recommend their content."
In addition, users can make their Yahoo address book portable by providing it to online merchants for easily shipping a gift to a friend, or to get a reminder that it's time to send a contact an online birthday card, he added. "Even beyond the address book, we've built the whole system with the mentality that any personal data that you put into Yahoo is inherently your data; you own it, and you can give it to anyone or take it anywhere you would like."
Yahoo also announced that it plans to open some of its services, like My Yahoo and Yahoo Mail, and its front page for customisation with third-party applications.
Developers can start building and publishing new applications into Yahoo today, the company added.
Some industry observers have said that Yahoo's Open Strategy could be the key to regaining lost users and to recovering after its painful tussle with Microsoft over a potential acquisition.
As part of the plan, Yahoo is opening all its sites, online services and Web applications to outside developers, and giving users a "social profile" dashboard to unify and manage their Yahoo services.