It was a case of past, present and future in the world of social networking this week, as a former giant threatened to make a comeback, the current king continued its struggle to stay relevant, and a potential future powerhouse started to attract attention.
The week started with the surprising news that MySpace has gained 1 million users in the last month, and is expanding at a rate of 40,000 new users per day. Since being purchased for US$35 million last June – by digital media company Specific Media and a group of independent investors including Justin Timberlake – the site has been reinvented as a music streaming site similar to Spotify or Rdio. The name has even been changed to Myspace, presumably to retain the brand recognition but without the aura of desertion.
CEO Tim Vanderhook says Myspace has 42 million songs, far more than any competitive site. It is not all about volume, of course -unless you’re into Scottish pirate metal or some other obscure genre – but if the reborn Myspace is a hit it could be the greatest comeback in internet history, considering the company was worth US$580 million when it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation back in 2006.
Also attracting attention this week was new social site Pinterest. Although not a social network in the conventional sense, users do have their own sites (or ‘pinboards’) and share content by ‘pinning’ pictures they have uploaded, or found while browsing the internet.
Whatever it is, it’s becoming increasingly popular, growing its usership by ten times in the past six months. The focus is firmly on fashion, whether that be clothing, makeup, housewares or food, and analysts are divided over just how much the user base is dominated by women. The challenge now is how to make money from the site, given that its main appeal is its aesthetic, which will be ruined by any advertising encroachment.
Speaking of advertising encroachment, it wouldn’t be a social networking roundup without a mention of Facebook. The latest from the big blue behemoth is a rumour that it’s about to launch Timeline for brands, bringing business pages in line with those of public users. The announcement is expected to come at Facebook’s fMC marketing conference at the end of the month; what it’ll probably boil down to, though, is making it easier for businesses to market themselves to the site’s enormous user base, which is what Facebook needs to do to convince potential investors it can make a sustainable profit ahead of its impending IPO.
In other news, Cisco epitomised closing the stable door after the horse has bolted this week by announcing its opposition to the purchase of Skype by Microsoft. The deal was approved in October, and while Cisco hasn’t gone so far as to suggest it should be reversed, the company has asked authorities to impose stricter terms on the companies, specifically making sure they adhere to interoperability guidelines so that other players aren’t bullied out of the market. "Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier, or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others,” a Cisco representative wrote in a blog. It’s a great principle, of course, but should probably have been stated more vociferously a few months ago.
Have a great weekend!