MySpace Makes More Friends
MySpace, the world's most popular social network has announced a programme that will allow its members to share profile data with other social and community websites across the Internet.
Called Data Availability, the new initiative will see the News Corp. owned social networking site partner with Yahoo, eBay, Twitter and Photobucket. The full version will be available to MySpace's 117 million users worldwide in the next few weeks.
"The walls around the garden are coming down-the implementation of Data Availability injects a new layer of social activity and creates a more dynamic Internet," said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace. "We, alongside our Data Availability launch partners, are pioneering a new way for the global community to integrate their social experiences Web-wide."
Information which can be migrated and shared across the sites includes rich media, as well as personal information such as photos, interests and friend's lists. The application is optional and can be tailored, but if selected, users changing details on one site would automatically update their profiles on partner sites.
The ways in which MySpace integrates its data with the partner sites will vary. Yahoo! Messenger users can expect their profile pictures, interests and music tastes communicated to their friends. The data will also be used within Yahoo!'s other services such as Yahoo! Mail, which is expected to be updated later this year.
For users of eBay, profile data will be used primarily to enhance buyer and seller profiles. According to MySpace, in a socially driven market place such as eBay, personal information could help users decide on who they would prefer to buy goods from.
Those with Twitter and Photobucket accounts can also expect more detailed profiles than the sites currently allow. MySpace announced that its Data Availability initiative will use open standards to 'embrace the open source community and allow the implementation to be as no proprietary as possible'.
"Yahoo! believes in an open Internet that gives users the flexibility to make their Web experiences as relevant, social and personalised as they can. As a long-time collaborator with MySpace on a variety of projects, including the OpenSocial Foundation, we're thrilled to support this new initiative," said Ash Patel, Executive Vice President, Platforms, at Yahoo!. "The Yahoo! Open Strategy and MySpace Data Availability are a giant leap towards a more social and open Internet."
In the US, MySpace accounts for 41.5 per cent of US visits to social networking and community sites in March, according to Hitwise. However, Xavier Adam, managing director of AMC Network believes that MySpace has some catching up to do in terms of how it integrates its services with other platforms.
"MySpace looks to have chosen to make the move now because of the competitive nature of the social networking space. MySpace, seems to have adopted the mantra, "if you can't beat them, join them". It has transpired that people are using multi platform, so it is unrealistic to wall them in to one site," he said.
More members means more money
Analysts, eMarketer, estimated in December, 2007 that $850 million will be spent on advertising on MySpace in 2008. The programme is an opportunity for MySpace to continue leveraging and more importantly, better monetise, the huge amount of data it has on its users, according to Olly Wenn, managing director of software and web development company, Zolv.
"There have been a number of power plays over the last few months between Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and MySpace. Market share and owning the customer and their data must be a driver here. Whoever wins the customer's data, and hence trust has a major opportunity to monetise that down the line, in ways we haven't even thought of yet. MySpace is now owned by News Corp. and Mr Murdoch knows a thing or two about penetrating new markets and expanding within. How long before our Sky+ schedules can be shown on our MySpace page? In addition, MySpace was slow to allow the integration of applications in comparison to Facebook so being first with this is important to MySpace and gives it the chance to be seen as leading the field," he said.
The key to the programme is the open platform. While presently the partnership allows sites to merely transfer profiles across their pages, future developments should make for more interesting uses.
"Whether it delivers an immediate direct benefit to users, or instead acts as a catalyst for grander cross domain data sharing schemes remains to be seen. This is effectively an enabling technology, so it's not what it does itself that's particularly exciting; it's what others end up building on top of it in the long term," continued Wenn.