So, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) has heard of blogs. Its rivals have been getting into the game, and many of us have wondered when -- and if -- Yahoo! was going to jump in, too. According to TheWall Street Journal, the time is nigh -- the beta version, Yahoo! 360 (code name: Mingle) will launch March 29.

Recent data suggests that while many people still don't know what blogs are, the amount of time people spend both reading and writing blogs has been growing in leaps and bounds. Some of you may have just recently heard of blogs -- short for "Web logs" -- because of buzz about their uneasy relationship with journalism, but many are simply online diaries that make it easy for friends and family to keep up with one another. That's where a mighty Internet giant like Yahoo! comes in, attempting to tie it all together.

Most people know that rival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was the first mover in the blog space when it acquired Pyra Labs' Blogger, one of the pioneers in bringing blogging to the modern man (and woman). Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) dragged its feet, having just launched its own version in December, dubbed MSN Spaces. Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online also has a version, called AOL Journals.

As easy as it might be to condemn Yahoo! for coming so late to the party, the inevitable synergies that blogs and social networking features bring are welcome guests. The idea that Yahoo! users can share content with one another within their own Yahoo! community is a big plus, especially when you take into account the Web Mail, Instant Messaging platform, beefed-up search, and content features that the portal offers to users. Of course, AOL provides a similar experience and also has a large user base, as does MSN.

A lot of Internet strength is gained from first-mover advantage and the subsequent benefits of what we'll call "couch potato syndrome" -- an affliction of users who don't want to try new things or change their contact information once they've put down stakes. Of all the people who adopted Blogger during the past year of blog buzz, it seems difficult to imagine that many will relocate their blogs unless Yahoo! and its rivals provide differentiation and features they just can't refuse.

In that respect, Yahoo!'s late entry may make this just another case of too little, too late.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.