Called Google Groups 2, the service lets people create, search and sift through e-mail mailing lists. People can also subscribe to and monitor groups of interest. The search engine, which is for a $2.7 billion initial public offering, introduced a test version of the service on its Web site Wednesday.
"Google Groups 2 enables users to participate in global conversations about any topic," the company said.
Google's service will compete directly with Yahoo Groups, a cornerstone of Yahoo's Web community services. That front is only the latest in an ongoing competition between the two Internet companies.
In the past five and a half years, Google has morphed from a straightforward Web search engine into a network of Internet services, many of which rival Yahoo's. Overlapping services from the two companies include a comparison-shopping engine, tools for Web publishing and, most recently, free .
Now Google wants to improve discussion groups. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company built Google Groups 2 from its first groups service, which lets people create and search archives of Web-based discussion groups. Google Groups was introduced in 2001 after the company purchased the Usenet archives from Deja News.
Yahoo Groups is the result of Yahoo's acquisition of eGroups in summer 2000, when it paid roughly $432 million in stock for the list-hosting company. At the time, the service had roughly 17 million members and 800,000 e-mail lists. Yahoo merged Yahoo Groups and Yahoo Clubs, a similar Web-based community that uses online posting and instant chat to communicate.