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RealTime IT News

It's a Group Thing

Yahoo! Inc. launched a new, free service aimed at letting groups of people communicate via e-mail and other Web-based tools.

The service is called Yahoo! Groups, and it offers the ability to share photos and files, plan events, and even send newsletters. The launch is a milestone in the integration of the eGroups service, acquired by Yahoo! last June in a $400 million-plus stock deal. Yahoo! said it plans to integrate Yahoo! Clubs into Yahoo! Groups later this year.

"Whether building relationships with others who share similar interests or exchanging ideas to spur discussion, Yahoo! Groups is an easy and convenient way to stay connected to others," said Mark Hull, senior producer, Yahoo! Groups.

Yahoo! Groups lets members see who is online and chat with them in real-time using Yahoo! Messenger; allows interaction via e-mail or by visiting a Web page for a particular group; allows voting with a polls feature; offers a database function for things like fantasy football leagues; and a message archive for tracking past discussions.

And for investors concerned with bottom line results, the new service, of course, attracts traffic and keeps users on the site longer, providing more eyeballs for advertisers and more opportunities for e-commerce sales.

Meanwhile, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. Inc. in Arlington, Va., added Yahoo! to its new media list, saying that the shakeout in the overall Internet sector makes this a good time for investors to focus on the leaders in the space.

Senior New Media Analyst Rob Martin initiated coverage of Yahoo! with an Accumulate rating. The stock was down about 87 cents in midday trading at $39.