Hey MySpace, Aren't You A Little Late To The 'Portal' Bandwagon?

from the retro dept

Brian Stelter opens his piece on MySpace on a generally positive note, suggesting he was intending his write-up for the New York Times to be a sympathetic look at the company’s relationship to its corporate parent, owned by Rupert Murdoch. But the article ends up painting a picture of a site without a clear vision of its future. In probably the most damning paragraph in the article, an advertising executive says that the MySpace’s parent company had envisioned the site as a portal, but that he “thought they would be much further along with that today.” For about a decade, websites have tried to mask their lack of focus by labeling themselves portals. A decade ago, that strategy worked pretty well for Yahoo! in 1996, when it had enough content to really make it stand out from the crowd. But it’s hard to imagine that a similar strategy will work in 2008. Users have many more choices and more sophisticated tools for finding the content they need, so the attraction of a one-size-fits-all portal is much lower.

I suspect that the fundamental problem is that it just doesn’t make much sense for an “old media” company like News Corp. to own a tech startup like MySpace. They key to MySpace’s success in the years before the acquisition was precisely that the company didn’t need to produce content; users created “content” of their own by swapping messages, posting pictures and music, etc. Social networking sites are fundamentally technology platforms that enable users to share their own content with one another. Trying to produce “original content” for the site is a step in the wrong direction. There’s no way they can satisfy the diverse tastes of their millions of users, but they can waste a lot of money trying. And while MySpace focuses on becoming more like the mainstream media, its competitors?especially Facebook?are working feverishly on enhancements to their underlying technology platforms. Meanwhile, the MySpace user experience continues to deteriorate. I regularly get spam from other MySpace users (although this has become less common in recent months), the site is littered with gaudy banner ads, and I encounter error messages a lot more frequently than I do on Facebook. These are the sorts of problems that an 80-year-old newspaper mogul like Murdoch just isn’t going to know how to deal with. He is, by all accounts, a brilliant businessman, but he’s not a technologist, and it was probably a mistake for him to buy what was fundamentally a technology company.

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Companies: myspace, news corp

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Comments on “Hey MySpace, Aren't You A Little Late To The 'Portal' Bandwagon?”

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Joel Coehoorn says:

I think you’re mostly right here, but miss one thing. For a lot of people, MySpace in a sense is their portal. It works as a portal exactly because it’s *not* a one size fits all site, but a place where you can go and quickly and easily create your own custom portal that’s exactly perfect for you, with the content you care about. This goes all the way down to the level of including updates from your friends.

But yeah, it’s been pretty much screwed up.

Joel Tarasiuk (user link) says:

Myspace used to be a trend setter…and it has become a mainstream application. They look to catch up with whats “cool” and the latest thing to do. Its a bit of a shame. I never liked the layout to begin with. Very messy, non standardized, music blaring and slowing down my pc. Myspace is like the downtown of bustling city…noisy, dirty and scary.

Duodave (user link) says:

Maybe but...

Myspace also recently announced it was opening to applications, much like facebook.

Imagine an application that would draw in outside content, say in an RSS feed. One could conceivably design your custom Myspace page to draw in whatever feeds desired, thus making it the equivalent of a portal.

Really, it wouldn’t be all that hard to do on Myspace what Google and Yahoo are doing, using applications. It would, however, be slightly cumbersome and less elegant.

Stinky Butt (user link) says:

MySpace just blows Donkey Farts !

In my humble opinion, the only good thing to come out of MySpace was YouTube, and the only reason that came about is that R. Murdock in his infinite wisdom kicked YouTube out of MySpace.

I hate the interface, the ads, the total lack of vision since R.M. and crew bought the thing and started to slime the purety of the place with their greasy paws and running dog capitalist greed.

The sooner it sinks into the ether of 60 something hipsters it will be too soon for me !

Duodave (user link) says:

Re: MySpace just blows Donkey Farts !

Heh. Real mature. Donkey farts, eh?

Well your complete lack of knowledge of the origin and history of YouTube really tells me a lot.

It was actually started by ex-paypal employees. As such, it is mildly interesting that Google was able to buy YouTube and Yahoo missed out on that, which may partially explains why Yahoo is laying people off.

As far as Murdoch is concerned, this is the same man who has dropped the Wall Street Journal paywalls, so he can’t be all bad.

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