At the Web 2.0 Summit a couple weeks ago, Owen Van Natta, CEO of MySpace, told the audience that “I really don’t view Facebook as a competitor.” It’s funny because absolutely every quote from the company in the press over the past couple weeks involves a differentiation from Facebook, and the more they discuss how they’re different, the more they appear to be a competitor. It’s an unfortunate truth for the company which missed its minimum traffic levels last quarter, costing the company $100 million.
Today’s quote from News Corp’s digital officer Jonathan Miller was that Facebook “is about what people are up to” whereas MySpace “is about what people are into”. Rather than completely turning the company around, executives at MySpace appear to be doing everything in their power to continue it’s competition with Facebook. For example MySpace ID, which the company is considering rebranding, “is focused on socializing content” around the web.
Isn’t that what Facebook Connect does though? Who is going to use MySpace as their primary identity service when they aren’t using it anymore? The real issue is that MySpace continues to speak in abstract terms and push forward on products that compete with Facebook rather than make a big gamble on completely redefining the site. With traffic continuing to tumble there are few things to suggest that a turnaround is in fact at hand.
Music: The Bright Spot In An Otherwise Bleak MySpace Picture
While the walls may be crumbling around MySpace, the company has managed to hang on to one valuable asset: music. Just last week Google announced a partnership with Lala and MySpace owned iLike for their new music product. Music was already MySpace’s strength but with this new alliance with Google, the company can continue to build its most valuable product.
So how does MySpace continue to build off their already thriving music products? I would suggest using MySpace ID (or whatever they decide to name it) as a service for tracking users at live music events. Add a small RFID chip to users who attend concerts and make automated branded updates such as, “Nick just entered the Bacardi tent at Funfest ’09” as a user participates in various activities.
In other words MySpace could define a user’s entertainment identity. Right now Facebook already tracks users’ real life connections so competing in that space doesn’t make a ton of sense. Rather than just tracking friends, track that which matters to large brands: a user’s entertainment consumption activities. Just a thought!
MySpace Needs To Be Completely Differentiated
Right now the consumer makes little differentiation between Facebook and MySpace as they see both services as competing products. Whether or not MySpace things serving as a user’s entertainment profile makes a lot of sense, they need to completely redefine the service immediately. The clock is ticking and while many of the executives may be in it to milk a dying cow, there’s opportunity left but it sure as hell won’t come from doing more of the same.