Late last week Yahoo! announced the acquisition of del.icio.us, a “social bookmarking” service that allows users to “tag” the content they find on the Web into categories they create themselves, and to share those tags with other del.icio.us users. Lots of Internet users have heard of del.icio.us but never used it. It’s the kind of service that has built an intense, loyal, but still relatively small following – kind of like Flickr, the image-sharing service which, by the way, Yahoo! also acquired earlier this year. Integration of these social networking features into the more mainstream Yahoo! user base will be a boost for both of them and a boost for Yahoo! as it finds more ways to connect with and hold on to users. Look for integration of Flickr and del.icio.us with Yahoo!'s existing personalized social networking environment MyWeb, and in a way that sits well with the masses, not just the early adopters. Note the way Yahoo! integrated RSS feeds into its personalization without using the technospeak term “RSS” or the orange XML boxes prevalent elsewhere on the Web. We expect it to similarly find ways to describe and present social tagging in some more mainstream-friendly way.
This deal further illustrates what we’ve said about one of the clear differences between the two major search players’ approaches to helping users find information. Google’s DNA is still all about technology, and technological solutions for bringing users the content they need. Yahoo! continues to go back to its human-driven roots. After all, Yahoo! started as a human-based directory of categorized Web sites. del.icio.us is simply a Web 2.0 version of the same idea – one that lets users do the categorizing and sharing all by themselves.