Is MySpace isolationism paving the way for competitors?

September 13, 2006 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

News Corp. COO Peter Chernin made some bold statements yesterday at the Merrill Lynch Media & Entertainment Conference about MySpace‘s future plans. According to MultiChannel News, Chernin asserted that 60-70% of YouTube traffic comes from MySpace and hinted strongly that his company was going to do something about that: “Given that most of their [YouTube] traffic comes from us, if we build adequate, if not superior, competitors, I think we ought to be able to match them, if not exceed them.”

TechCrunch’s Marshall Kirkpatrick came out fighting: “the COO of News Corp. says that Web 2.0 is leaching traffic off of MySpace, that they can build their own services to compete with any of it and that there’s going to be an increasingly aggresive commercial push on the site. That sounds both dangerously arrogant and like a real validation of fears that MySpace dependency is too risky for outside developers.”

Marshall raised the issue of MySpace’s openness – or lack of it. While competitor Facebook has opened its APIs to developers, MySpace is going in the opposite direction and blocking external links in widgets.

Chernin’s comments sparked fears that News Corp.’s attempts at commercializing MySpace will alienate users and destroy the essence of what it paid $580m for. They may also have heartened the many competitors out there – Facebook for one – who would just love to get their hands on MySpace’s 80m users. One TechCrunch reader suggested that Facebook should start “a ‘we’re widget-friendly’ campaign” immediately. Not a bad idea.

We can all debate whether MySpace’s actions are in keeping with the spirit of Web 2.0. From what I know of Rupert Murdoch, I imagine he doesn’t care two hoots about that as long he wins. The real question will be whether MySpace’s users care.

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Entry filed under: Web 2.0.

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