MySpace’s Facebook Imitation: Not Convincing

Rupert Murdoch and newly re-signed employee Chris DeWolfe presented at Web 2.0 today. As Mike Arrington had predicted (while Valleywag and Josh Quittner pooh-poohed the notion), DeWolfe announced plans for a Facebook-like platform for the social network.

But it’s not Facebook. From TechCrunch:

  • In the next couple of weeks MySpace will release a directory of existing third party widgets to help users find good content to add to their MySpace page.
  • In the next month or two, MySpace will launch a proper platform. As we mentioned in our previous post, will essentially be a set of APIs and a new markup language that will allow third party developers to create applications that run within MySpace. Developers will be able to include Flash applets, iFrame elements and Javascript snippets in their applications, and access most of the core MySpace resources (profile information, friend list, activity history, etc.). Unlike existing widgets on MySpace, developers will be able to access deep profile and other information about users and bake it into the applications.
  • Advertising can be included on the application pages (called control pages) and developers will keep 100% of the revenue. Ads may not be placed within widgets that appear on MySpace pages, however.
  • Platform applications will not be available to all MySpace users right away. They’ll have a beta period that includes just 1-2 million MySpace users who’ll be able to access the applications. After a beta period applications will be available to all MySpace users.

The timeline and the technical details here aren’t important. What is crucial is how much freedom MySpace gives developers, and how much advertising MySpace is willing to share with third-party developers. In the past those answers have been “little” and zero; now they’re promising “a bit” and “some”.

We’ll need to hear and see more before we can make a final judgment, but it appears as if MySpace is going to curate the apps available, and cordon off ads to certain parts of the network.– it’s unclear how this will work, but it appears as if they’re planning a tiered system, where apps are “tested” and eventually some are “tightly integrated” into MySpace. If that’s the case, it will be interesting to see how much interest a semi-open platform  draws from developers.