AOL Crosses The Streams With One-Stop Social Bid

aolTo meet consumers' growing reliance on disparate social platforms from Twitter to Facebook, AOL is launching its social networking aggregator Lifestream as a stand-alone product. Lifestream lets users view status messages and posts from "friends" on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, YouTube and other popular platforms as a single stream. As a stand-alone service, Lifestream will now also include updates from Foursquare and MySpace.

"Lifestream is all about creating a unique and simple experience where you can view all of your social content and status updates in one place," said Brad Garlinghouse, president of Consumer Applications at AOL.

"To date, nobody has done this well, and we think it's a huge opportunity for AOL to surprise our consumers and the industry at large with an incredibly compelling social experience," Garlinghouse added.

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Yet, while Garlinghouse is entitled to his opinion, Minneapolis-based ad agency Fallon launched a very similar service last March. Dubbed Skimmer, the desktop widget helps users track activity across their various social networks. Oddly enough, "lifestream" is the exact word that Rob Buchner, chief marketing officer at Fallon, used to describe Skimmer last March.

About six months later, AOL launched Lifestream within its popular instant messaging service AIM. Since then, usage has soared to nearly 2 million users, according to AOL.

Aol/lifestreamLifestream will now be available as a desktop application, as well as on the iPhone and Android mobile platforms. The service will be in beta for the next several weeks, and is currently available for download at lifestream.aol.com.

The new service will allow users to post an update once and distribute it to all of their social networks simultaneously, eliminating the repetitive process of having to post multiple updates to various networks.

It will also offer more control to users as it relates to distribution of their updates and posts. Additional features of Lifestream include the ability to sign in with one's Facebook ID, new search capabilities, the option to "mute" certain people or terms, and the ability to add pictures or locations to posts and updates.

In addition, Lifestream lets users "follow" a specific location -- an offering that AOL claims is unique to Lifestream, but which smacks of a similar service offered by foursquare.

In addition to publishing status messages, moods, photos, videos and blogs from MySpace, Lifestream will now incorporate user check-ins from Foursquare, allowing the updates to be shared with friends across various networks as well as letting users view their foursquare friends' activities.

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