Bebo Makes Its Inbox Socially-Aware

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Social networking service (and recent AOL acquisition) Bebo has announced a new “Social Inbox,” aiming to offer a one-stop online location where users can access their email, get their social networking fix, and learn about new “media recommendations.” The idea is that instead of having to log into a myriad of social media and online lifestyle sites, users can just navigate to a single Bebo inbox and get all the stuff that matters to them.

“People want the ability to stay in-touch with their contacts in real-time wherever their friends may be across the Web. The current fragmented social networking environment makes keeping up-to-date with others increasingly difficult,” said president of AOL People Networks Joanna Shields, in a statement. “Bebo’s new Social Inbox is our first step in solving this problem.”

Bebo’s social inbox can pull information from services like Twitter, Del.icio.us, YouTube, and Flickr, as well as email from GMail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL Mail. The service also offers a localized RSS feed reader that carries news and updates from around the world, and features a Media Favorites recommendation system that recommends music, video groups, and games based on a user’s stated preferences, aggregated data (like what their friends are watching or listening to), while respecting a user’s privacy settings. Bebo can tap into content from more than 500 media companies, including MTV, ESPN, CBS, and the BBC.

Anyone with an AOL or AIM screen name can sign into Bebo—which greatly expands the potential reach of the service. But there are several 400-pound gorillas missing from the room: Bebo’s social inbox doesn’t currently hook up with feeds from social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, meaning users with friends on those services will (still) have to surf around to get their updates.

AOL is positioning Bebo as the cornerstone of its new People Networks business unit, and says it plans a series of announcements in 2009 that will further expand its presence in the social media space.

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