Web2Summit: MySpace To Open Up

web2sumit and fim

Yesterday evening Chris DeWolfe (l) and Rupert Murdoch (m) of MySpace/FIM/NewsCorp sat down with John Battelle (r) at the Web 2.0 Summit. During the chat they discussed MySpace’s API, DeWolfe’s decision to stay with MySpace for another two years, and the opening of their SF office.

DeWolfe pointed out that MySpace started off as a social network back during the days of Friendster. In contrast to Friendster, they allowed their users to represent themselves as they wished and allowed non-person profiles to flourish. By having a focus on music, letting their users do what they want, and being open to third-party widgets & embeds MySpace got them where they are today — the top site on the internet.

Over the next two months they are going to increase third-party access to their site. First, they are going to highlight the thousands of widgets that have been on their site for years now. This should be released in the next couple of weeks. I am assuming that it will go beyond the FIM’s Spring Widget Gallery. Second, they are going to offer an API for applications to all developers. However, these applications are going to be sandboxed initially and 1-2 million users will have access to them. If the users deem the applications safe and useful they’ll be available to all users. Developers will be able to advertise in their applications.

Chris DeWolfe promised that MySpace would become “open” — where open means that the user can take their social graph or friend list to another service. Unfortunately, it was unclear how much to heart that idea was taken. The initial response focused around deals with other networks. The recently announced deal with Skype is a perfect example of deal-based data portability. They’ll have access each other’s social network data (which will really help Skype in the US and MySpace internationally).

So where will an open platform take MySpace? In a briefing this afternoon DeWolfe stated that an important goal of MySpace is to become the startpage for their users. They want to become an aggregator of information from both MySpace and third-party sources.

It’s conventional wisdom that the API and other aspects of opening up MySpace are prompted Facebook‘s platform moves. But will MySpace be able to move beyond just responding in this area? In the past their openness has been limited to a spot on a user’s page — not hard-earned data or revenue. Is opening up their user’s data really part of MySpace’s DNA? Or sharing revenue? Maybe not currently, but competition provides a strong incentive.

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