Yahoo 360 takes spin through blogosphere

Web giant invites members to sign up for beta test of blogging and social networking service.

Yahoo is stepping into social networking and blogging, with a new service that promises to offer a simpler way to keep in touch with people.

Dubbed Yahoo 360, the new service is accepting invitation-only beta testers for now, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Web giant said Wednesday. The test will be opened to a broader audience on March 29.

Yahoo 360 combines a new blogging tool along with several longtime Yahoo products, including instant messaging, photo storage and sharing, and Internet radio. It also offers tools for sharing recommendations about places to eat, favorite movies, music and so on.

"It's really about keeping connected to people you know," said Julie Herendeen, vice president for network services at Yahoo. "Yahoo 360 allows consumers to conveniently connect with the people they care about by creating and sharing blogs, photos and other content across Yahoo."

Herendeen said Yahoo had no immediate plans to add advertising to the service. "We're focused on engaging people first," she said.

Yahoo's move comes as social networking and blogging draw increased interest from rivals, including Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft in December added a blog product for its MSN Web service, called MSN Spaces. Google, meanwhile, owns Web log service Blogger and social networking site Orkut.

CNET News.com's Stefanie Olsen contributed to this report.

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