Social networks of the future could be email based

Yahoo! Mail
While Facebook, Friendster and MySpace are the big names in social networking these days, tomorrow's social networking giants could be Yahoo! and Google. And we're not talking about Google's OpenSocial platform.

The New York Times' Saul Hansel suggests that Yahoo! and Google are working on bringing social networking features to your email account. Think about it. What's the first thing that happens when you sign up for Facebook? The service scans your email address book to find friends who are already members. There's a lot of valuable information in your inbox. So it makes sense that the companies providing your email service might want to build on that information and give you a few more reasons to stick around their site all day.

Yahoo! is working on "Inbox 2.0," or a way to make your inbox a bit more social. For example, users will be able to build profiles so that if you click on the name of a person who sends you a message, you should be able to find out more about them. Yahoo! is also working on technology that will analyze your relationships with the people you are sending and receiving mail from. Rather than display your email chronologically, your email could be organized based on your relationship with the sender.

Google's plans are a bit less clear, but Hansel reports that they are definitely up to something.

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