Looking to gain another edge on its rivals, Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday will begin testing a new e-mail folder designed to make it easier for people to track the latest information posted on their favorite Web sites.
The free feature relies on Really Simple Syndication, an increasingly popular technology that can compile content from a wide array of Web sites catering to a user's personal tastes.
Millions of people have signed up to receive automatic feeds on everything from the international news to family recipes since Yahoo first began providing its RSS service last year, said Scott Gatz, the Sunnyvale, Calif-based company's senior director of personalization products.
Until Wednesday, Yahoo relied on Web pages as its RSS hub. RSS feeds will still be accessible through Yahoo's Web site.
Creating an e-mail folder for RSS seemed like a logical way for Yahoo to educate more people about the technology because e-mail remains the most popular application online, Gatz said. "This is really taking RSS to another level."
Initially, the latest RSS feature will be available to less than half of Yahoo's e-mail accountholders as the company tests the new format, company officials said. Yahoo has been gradually moving its e-mail users to a more dynamic version of the service since introducing a series of upgrades in September.
Although Yahoo doesn't charge people for its RSS service, the company has a financial motive to widen the audience using the technology. As RSS has become more prevalent, it is emerging as a new channel for online advertising — a business that accounts for most of Yahoo's profits.
Yahoo also is aggressively rolling out new products to give people more reasons to return to its Web site instead of using the services of rivals like Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL.