MySpace (NWS) is making the same strategic misstep that has crippled Internet leaders since the dawn of Internet time: Embracing that old-media crap about “content being king.” In so doing, MySpace has already opened the door for Facebook to blow past it, the same way Yahoo once blew past AOL and Google blew past Yahoo. If Murdoch wants to maintain his reputation as the only old-media guy who really gets the Internet, he should steer MySpace back on course–and fast.
Today, MySpace (NWS) rolls out Roommates.com, the first of many original content productions for MySpace TV. The productions are the right format for online video–3 minute episodes–and they are certainly aimed at the sweet spot of MySpace’s user base. But developing and funding original productions is almost certainly not the best use of MySpace’s limited resources, especially with Facebook looming large in the rearview mirror.
The engine that rocketed MySpace up the Internet charts wasn’t traditional “content”: It was community. You don’t need traditional content to feed and grow a community–you need more efficient, effective, and cooler community tools (including tools that allow users to develop and aggregate third-party content). One reason that Facebook has been able to grow so fast at MySpace’s expense has been that MySpace has taken its eye off the community ball. Instead of expanding MySpace’s community tools (a la Facebook), MySpace has been seduced by the same sexy “Entertainment” industry glamor that lured Terry Semel, Rob Glaser, and dozens of other Internet execs off course. (Understandable, given the company’s LA-based DNA, but also disastrous).
rumours of MySpace’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but if MySpace insists on becoming a “content” company, the former world-dominant social networking leader will soon occupy the same competitive position that Yahoo now does: also ran.
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