David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo is in London today at the start of Open Hack Day, an event to encourage developers to build applications based on the company's platform.
Speaking to Computer Weekly prior to the start of Open Hack Day, Filo, said, "Most of the [internet] applications we see today will become more social." He said Yahoo's Flickr, which is built around photo sharing, is an example of a web service that is very social. "Other services like search are not very social. But this will change.
Yahoo has provided application programming interfaces (API) to allow developers to create software on top of its search APIs and YQL, the Yahoo Query Language. Yahoo Mail will becomes much more social allowing users to see what their friends are doing, rather like Windows Live from Microsoft.
Filo said YQL uses people's social connections to influence the results they get back from from an internet search. So a search could bring back recommendations from the delicous social networking site.
Clearly there is a commercial driver for Filo. He said, "In terms of advertising, search advertising on the internet is very successful." The question is how this model of advertising can be applied to social networking sites and web 2.0. Filo believes some of today's commercial models can be applied but some will not work. "I expect, in terms of advertising, we'll figure out how to present the right messages to the right consumers."
This raises the question of privacy and the unpopularity among internet users of the Phorm track service, to target advertising based on which internet sites users visit. Major sites like Amazon have already blocked Phorm.
Filo said, "Privacy issues are definitely important. We do what we can to allow users to keep control over all their privacy. It's v improtant we get this right."
Bandwidth is another issue that will curb the growth of internet services. "It's improving but not as fast as we'd like," Filo said. "Mobile device are getting better. In Asia there is high connectivity rate. More and more devices are wireless or wi-fi enabled so users get much better access. But in order [for the mobile internet] to achieve mass market penetration, data plans have to come down by some amount."
But these things are improving all the time. Networks are getting faster and devices are becoming more powerful. Over the next five years, Filo expects the web will be a more open platform, many more applications will use social networking and people will be using devices like set top boxes for internet access in their living rooms rather than desktop PCs and laptops.