Myspace Responds to Facebook

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Wow! Mark Zuckerberg and facebook sure are rustling the feathers of some big birds these days. It was only the other day that I was posting about the Google vs. facebook debate heating up. The latest competitor news for facebook will be more concerning for Zuckerberg I’m sure. The statistical king of social networks, MySpace, has made some big announcements.

During a Q&A session with John Battelle at the web 2.0 conference yesterday, Rupert Murdoch and MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe took an opportunity to present some interesting improvements and additions that will be made to their social networking site. Rumors about how MySpace will offer an open platform have been rife, particularly given the fact that facebook introduced this exact feature in May this year and have since seemed to benefit massively from the tactic.

Based on what was revealed by Murdoch and DeWolfe, these rumors are drifting more towards becoming matters of fact. The big news is that MySpace will indeed introduce a phased strategy moving towards and eventual open platform situation, similar to that of facebook.

The segmented approach by MySpace to get their first open platform situation live and operational for their members involves 3 main phases:

1. Widget Directory Launch

In the immediate short term MySpace will launch a directory made up of widgets that already exist for users profile pages. The purpose of this move is simply to make the ability for users to access the widegts a whole lot easier than it is currently.

2. Open Platform Launch

In the more medium term (within a couple/few months) MySpace will implement the ‘guts’ of their new strategy- a genuine platform. The platform will be a set of API’s and a new markup language that third party developers can use to build applications that will run within MySpace. The good news is that unlike existing MySpace widgets, developers of the new era of widgets will be able to access deeper profile information that can then be built in permanently.

Whilst advertisements cannot be placed within the new MySpace widgets, any revenue generated by ads placed on the specific application page will be granted to the developer (100%).

3. Beta Testing

Unfortunately, the new MySpace application functionality will not be available to all MySpace users in the first instance. A beta testing group of around 1-2 million members will be utilized after which the platform will be open to all members.

Conclusion

Myspace is the biggest social network in the western world so this move, as I eluded to earlier in the post, will definitely alert the big guns at facebook. The fact that facebook have been through this open platform implementation phase already will serve as a a great base of education for MySpace. Murdoch’s team can now, to a certain extent, take a more deliberate and traditional approach to implementing their new strategy.

When facebook launched their open platform they were doing something remarkable in an effort to differentiate and whilst being first and fast is mostly always better, this approach does have it’s risks when you are up against a player as big and rich as Murdoch. The question is, can MySpace exploit these risks?


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