In a lot of ways, MySpace is sort of like the Microsoft of Web 2.0.
the platform that a lot of portable applications are going to get built
on...or at least built to. Not every app will live in MySpace, but
there has and will continue to be an explosion in the number of
applications that are MySpace compatable, even if they'll wind up
living on my blog.
And now, they're making overtures about going into the application development space,
just as Microsoft did when it saw opportunities to build compelling
apps that worked well together. There are a lot of key differences,
though, that will make this roadmap a more difficult one for MySpace.
most obviously, not everyone needs or wants MySpace as it is defined as
a brand. It trends younger because of the content that drives its
network....the bands, blinking layouts, autoplay videos, etc. However,
as a place to live on the web that is flexible and easy to manage, its
pretty good. I think you have to wonder if there isn't some value in
pushing the architecture into other demographics with some more
"serious" content...like an "open" LinkedIn.
An operating system, on the other hand, was a necessary evil, and so the target market for Windows was much larger.
thing that MySpace lacks is a developers network...or at least an
established/codified developer spec that someone who is looking to
create MySpace apps could reference. This kills me. MySpace may see
this as having the upperhand, knowing that all of the third party apps
could be shut off tomorrow, but the reality is that will just stifle
development over the long term. Venture backed startups don't mind
taking a shot at building in MySpace the way YouTube did and risking
getting shut off, but if it ever does happen, development will slow to
a trickle. That was the beauty of Microsoft. They couldn't turn you
off, but they owned the distribution channel, so they could make it
pretty difficult for you to survive. At least it appeared as if you
had a fighting chance, though, which was nice.
Still, a true
developers network and access to more data (like the way Facebook opens
up a person's movie and music interests to behaviorally targeted ads)
would encourage more development and make the underlying platform more
valuable. They should position themselves as very developer friendly.
Statements like Web 2.0 was built on our backs create a very uneasy
relationship with the people who are making your platform rich in
content and applications at no cost to you. Fox execs should be
wearing tshirts to work that say "We love Web 2.0. Come build here."
Microsoft certainly seems interested in encouraging development,
instead of saying developers are building "on our backs".
of web services through APIs, RSS, etc also make this a different game
than it was 15 years ago. Windows wasn't just a place to park your
apps...it was a place to make them work together. Pasting an Excel
sheet in a Word doc so easily made both programs more valuable and more
sticky, not to mention the proprietary data formats they had.
WordPerfect couldn't open a Word doc, so switching became really
difficult. Data is more standardized now. We can take our blog feeds,
tags, and our friends (conceptually, anyway) and port them wherever we want, and still benefit from integrating services.
other big difference for MySpace today is that just being a platform is
not a business model. Users don't pay for MySpace the way they pay for
Windows. What they should do is to open the door to any and all ad
supported or premium products and take a 10% cut across the top, sort
of like the way NTT Docomo does in Asia, instead of the way the Carrier
Mafia here takes your first born son for every piece of digital content
sold. Carriers... there's another group of platform providers that do
as much as they can to strangle innovation and be as unfriendly to
developers as possible.
I'm not friends with Tom anymore, but
as the Director of Consumer Products for a product that will hopefully
find its away onto my MySpace profile, I'd love to be friends with
MySpace...and not feel like I'm waiting for MySpace to drop the hammer on me.