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Oct 16

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

MySpace-Skype deal signals future of social networking

The deal to be announced tomorrow at the Web 2.0 Summit, for integration between MySpace IM and Skype, suggests that what I've been arguing for some time is coming true: the convergence of social networking and communication applications. It's inevitable that we build more crossover between our communications applications (which know our real social network) and social networking applications, which give us tools to manage and track it.

This partnership is primarily aimed at adding Skype voice-calling capabilities to MySpace IM, but there's no question in my mind that this integration is the tip of the iceberg. The outcomes are several:

  1. Social networking applications will grow into a kind of "smart address book" that aggregates our knowledge about and contact with the people we care about.

  2. The social network operating system will require interoperability between many applications that touch on our connections to other people, and our knowledge about them.

  3. There will be many niches, ranging from managing contacts among a group of friends or people with common interests, or managing contacts among people at an event (a la Crowdvine), to mass scale outreach, and eventually, to a kind of CRM 2.0 for corporate outreach. (To this latter point, some people have compared MySpace to Facebook by saying that MySpace isn't really a social network so much as it's a way for bands to connect with their fans. But that's a great use-case for social networking, as MySpace's deal with Sony (announced earlier today) demonstrates. There will be many use cases! Don't get trapped into thinking that today's use cases represent an end point.)

Here's the meat of the announcement, from the press release:

MySpace, the world’s most popular social network, and Skype, the leading Internet communications company, today announced a partnership to empower the MySpace community with voice communications. With more than 110 million monthly active MySpace users and 220 million Skype registered users around the world, this partnership connects two of the most popular communications platforms on the Internet to create the world’s largest online, voice-connected community.

The announcement unveils MySpaceIM with Skype, a new product that integrates MySpace’s popular IM client—currently the world’s fastest-growing IM platform with more than 25 million installed users—with Skype’s voice-calling capability. The partnership also will enable users to link their MySpace profiles and photos or avatars to their accounts on Skype. Both products will be available to end users starting in November.

Launching in 20 countries where MySpace has localized communities, MySpaceIM with Skype will enable millions of users to place free internet Skype calls to other MySpace or Skype users. The addition of Skype voice calling to MySpace’s instant messaging feature gives users more ways to easily connect with friends and family around the world and does not require MySpace users to download any additional Skype software.

I'm sure that this is the first of several MySpace announcements at the conference. They are not about to cede leadership in social networking to Facebook without a real fight. This is getting interesting. When companies compete hard, we all win, as innovation accelerates.

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tags: ebay, myspace, skype  | comments: 7   | Sphere It


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Henry Yates   [10.17.07 01:20 AM]

It will be interesting to see how MySpace gets on versus Facebook. Much of MySpace’s success has been a result of the content on the site - it started off as a music destination. Facebook’s vision has always been to provide a communication tool to connect existing friendships and its design and usability reflect this. It will be hard for MySpace to catch up and I think this is why Facebook will eventually dominate.

Pete   [10.17.07 01:50 AM]

It sure is an important step on the way to a true social management. But the biggest downfall is that it only allows you to communicate with your Myspace friends, while most of us are members of at least 2 social networks.
That's why I think 8hands is still better- true, it doesn't offer a voice communication, but it allows you to IM with ALL of your friends- no matter if they are Facebook friends, Myspac friends or Flickr friends.

derek   [10.17.07 05:29 AM]

microblogs are also at this juncture of communication and social networking, as anyone who's seen the flurry in Jaiku sign-ups this week knows!

While they lack on the content-richness of true social networks, they are over-developed on the communications side, like monster adaptor plugs for IM, email, phone, pods, blogs, mobile, desktop widget etc.

I'm convinced OCR output from a scanned PDF will appear before the year's out

derek   [10.17.07 05:44 AM]

This nexus will lead to a point where we'll have to consult our lifestreams about what our day holds, who our friends are, what conversations we're currently in and what our position is on the subject of the day.

Josh Patterson   [10.17.07 09:58 AM]

In any competitive market that hasn't quite matured, companies tend to decrease "price" and increase "value" until they hit that equilibrium point where, well, net profit is zero. I say tend, since in business school the textbook said that any market where a company was making profit that there was an opportunity for competition, but if they aren't making ANYTHING then investors tend to be unhappy.

That being said, just like my earlier posts on the coming open social graph, I think opening up the data to outside apps will be where myspace and facebook's market position equalizes towards. Just like when AOL tried to hold users away from the internet back in the late 90s, holding social graph data in the walled garden is just not going to be a winning strategy long term. There are a lot of small social networks and apps (disclosure: our is one of them) working towards being interoperable with one another via openID, SIOC, FOAF, and microformats. Dopplr announced importing your social network from other sites the single most requested feature in comments was FOAF import (with CSV import being second). I think its less of a matter of "if" now, and more a matter of "when", as although its gaining momentum, the end of a bull market cycle tends to thin the herd, which isnt always a bad thing, but may just delay widespread adoption.

Tony Stubblebine   [10.17.07 10:42 AM]

Thanks Tim,

I think a lot of our early communication tools are wonderfully efficient for information delivery but terribly inefficient for socializing. People marrying social networks with established communication tools are realizing that socializing and social cues are just as important to people as the actual information.

Maybe we were wrong to call this beast the Information Superhighway. Maybe we should call it ... wait for it... the Social Superhighway. Seriously, for many people socializing with friends is much more important than efficient parsing of reams of information.

Chris Heuer   [10.17.07 01:20 PM]

Reading this just made me rethink my take on the new 3 C's, increasing the power of "C" by one. The key to fully understanding and leveraging social media/social networking is the framework of the 4 C's

- Context
- Contacts
- Communications
- Collaboration

(I suppose it makes sense to increment as well as evolve beyond the original 3 C's of content, commerce, community)

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