March 2, 2005 5:18 PM PST
Friendster befriends blogs--and fees
Friendster, a so-called social-networking site of linked personal profiles, launched a beta, or test version, of Friendster Blogs, a section of the site that lets people post and archive the daily musings known as blogs.
"Start sharing your thoughts, opinions, stories, favorite music, movies, books and anything else you want others to know about you, your life, your interests and your friends!" reads an advertisement posted to Friendster home pages.
Friendster entered the media spotlight for firing an employee who kept a blog that included what she termed "publicly available" information about the company.
Friendster Blogs, whose underlying technology is provided by San Francisco-based Six Apart, is notable in that it merges two Web trends--social networking and blogging--and also helps nudge the social-networking sites toward fee-based revenue models.
Friendster was not immediately available for comment.
Social-networking sites like Friendster, Tribe.net and LinkedIn have earned tens of millions of dollars in venture capital investments, but solely on the basis of the throngs of people who have signed up for the free sites. Fees are a rarity in the social-networking world. Business-oriented LinkedIn this week said it would charge companies to post job listings.
Friendster, which recently defended its ad-based revenue model and disavowed any plans for fees, introduced three paid upgrade packages with Friendster Blogs.
The default option when users sign up for a blog is Friendster Blogs Basic, for $4.95 per month or $49.50 per year. That option boasts extra storage and bandwidth.
Friendster Blogs Pro, for $14.95 per month or $149.50 per year, offers "expert control over HTML, archive types and unlimited Web logs. Perfect for advanced users," the company said in a statement.
Friendster Blogs Plus, for $8.95 per month or $89.50 per year, lets users create photo albums, keep up to three blogs, and personalize the look of the blog.
The free version offers a number of differently designed templates and lets people post some photos.
Friendster said it is making the service available only to consumers in the United States and Canada, and that a broader rollout is planned.
The company also said its service will support mobile blogs, or "moblogging," which lets people update their blogs with images and text from small computing devices and Internet-ready cell phones.
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