Much was made yesterday of the announcement that MySpace will soon be available to Cingular subscribers on their mobile phones. They'll be able to download a MySpace application to their handset, then for $3 per month, plus whatever data charges they rack up, they can add friends and do whatever else they do to their hearts' content, whether they're in front of their PC or not. While surely MySpace is looking at this deal (and mobile in general) with dollar signs in its eyes, there are a few questions. First, do exclusive deals like this really work very well? The idea that one single feature -- particularly when it's data or content -- is attractive enough to get mobile users to switch operators remains unproven (just ask ESPN). But things get even more complicated as operators carve out exclusive deals to different popular sites. For instance, what if a user likes both MySpace and YouTube? Cingular's got the MySpace deal, but Verizon has exclusivity with YouTube. The likely answer is that they'll stay with their current provider, and seek out third-party solutions that allow mobile access -- often free of charge -- to these services. For instance, T-Mobile says that MySpace is the most popular web site among users of its Sidekick devices, while compatibility with MySpace and other social sites is a main selling point of the latest version of the free Opera Mini mobile browser. So by charging for the "official" mobile application, all MySpace could really be doing is raising the profile of mobile data and content services and creating an opportunity for other people to capitalize on it.
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