Yahoo YOS, Far From Complete, Inches Forward

Yahoo will unveil on Friday a few more pieces of its long-term Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS), a project that the company says is key to its technology and financial recovery.

However, it remains to be seen whether Yahoo will be able to put in place all the components of YOS quickly enough before end users and developers write off the struggling Internet giant as irrelevant.

Announced in April, YOS is a bold initiative to open all Yahoo sites, online services and Web applications to outside developers, and give users a "social profile" dashboard to unify and manage their Yahoo services.

With YOS, Yahoo hopes to improve its position in key areas where it hasn't done as well as expected in recent years, such as search, social networking and online video, while getting overshadowed by rivals big and small, including Google, MySpace and Facebook.

Yahoo wants to let end users of its Web mail, instant messaging, calendar, photo management and other online services replicate the experience that social networks like MySpace and Facebook have made so popular.

Since April, Yahoo has made incremental announcements for YOS, and on Friday, as it opens its Open Hack Day event for external developers, it will give participants a peek at some new YOS components.

These include the YOS application platform and a preview of social APIs (application programming interfaces) that will let programs access end user data. The platform and APIs will be available only in preview mode during the event. They will be publicly released in the coming months, according to Yahoo.

It's clear then that the tools external developers will need for YOS are still far from finished, while Web application development advances at high speed elsewhere.

MySpace, Facebook and Google all have sophisticated developer programs that have attracted tens of thousands of developers who are creating concrete applications with which they can generate revenue.

According to Yahoo, it expects "hundreds" of developers to attend Open Hack Day on Friday and Saturday, while Google hosted more than 3,000 developers at its I/O event in May. Developers have created more than 25,000 applications for Facebook since that company opened up its platform about a year and a half ago. MySpace's developer program also got up and running months ago.

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