The New York Times is reporting that iGoogle and Yahoo Mail could be at the core of social-networking plans for the two search companies.
"Web-based e-mail systems already contain much of what Facebook calls the social graph--the connections between people," Saul Hansell writes in his blog posting. "Yahoo and Google realize that they have this information and can use it to build their own services that connect people to their contacts."
Hansell says he's heard from several Google executives that that's their plan. "We believe there are opportunities with iGoogle to make it more social," says Joe Kraus, who heads up Google's OpenSocial project.
Meanwhile over at Yahoo, Brad Garlinghouse, head of communication and community products, said Yahoo is working on "Inbox 2.0," which displays messages from close friends more prominently than from strangers. Yahoo Mail also will be expanded to display more information about friends, such as birthdays.
If this is so, why are the companies experimenting with social-networking services like Mash, Kickstart and Orkut?