MySpace: the AOL of Social Networking

MySpace isn’t dead. But the social networking website that has been to Facebook what Apollo Creed was to Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” may want to start looking into hospice care.

Last spring, Owen Van Natta was named the CEO of MySpace. During the summer, Van Natta brought Katie Geminder over to the MySpace team. Geminder headed the RemakingMySpace project, an aggressive attempt to recreate and rebrand MySpace from the ground up.

Almost a year worth of work to pull up on the free falling plane, and MySpace is back to square one with the termination of Van Natta on February 10, and Geminder leaving the company at the end of last week. TechCrunch.com reports that new co-president Jason Hirrschorn hated RemakingMySpace from the beginning, and was quick to scratch the project once in power. There have also been numerous other senior employee departures this month.

MySpace has done whatever it can to erase any memory of the RemakingMySpace project having ever existed.

Would RemakingMySpace have worked? I don’t know, but with a second total regime change in less than a year, it has been a year wasted. Social networking is very much a “now” competition, and Facebook vs. MySpace has gone from the heated war of coke vs. pepsi to the internal combustion engine vs. the horse and buggy.

How many times can they completely retool the executive hierarchy of the company and have botched layout retooling projects and still remain relevant? There are more and more social networking websites being created and MySpace is out of site and out of mind. While it doesn’t seem like that long ago that MySpace was the king of all things social networking, the mighty have fallen.

Is MySpace invincible? Was AOL? It is not exactly the same as the two serve different purposes, but a decade ago, America Online was a leading internet service provider. In many ways, AOL was synonymous with the internet. But where are they now?

AOL’s popularity peaked between late 2001 and early 2003. Since that time, subscribers have been dropping from over 26 million users to barely five million, and they keep falling.

On August 9, 2006, MySpace reaches 100 million accounts. At that time, Facebook had roughly 10 million accounts. It is difficult to know exactly how many profiles are on MySpace, but default friend Tom has over 274 million friends (so there are at least that many). You may be inclined to argue, “Wow, that’s a lot of profiles.” I agree that a lot of people have MySpace profiles. It’s just that people don’t use MySpace profiles.

Facebook is enjoying over 260 billion page views per month. That is 11 times higher than MySpace as the graph from pingdom.com shows.

The reason why I compare MySpace to AOL is that they both went from the industry standard to relics. Other service providers came along and left AOL in the dust. It became an inferior product. Innovation, which has been the hallmark of sites like Facebook and Google has passed MySpace by. With Facebook building up such a significant worldwide lead, the ultimate feature of both sites is too similar and Facebook has already won. There is potential in other networking sites which provide different function. Twitter with microblogging and Linkedin with being a professional site.

But what is it that separates Facebook from MySpace? The fact that you can choose some fonts? If anything, the differences in layouts and fonts has done more harm than good as compared to the clean appearance of Facebook. The fact that it is easy to listen to music on MySpace? That isn’t a new feature, and at this point, what has that really done for the site anyway? It is a haven for webpages of bands that nobody listens to.

And besides, music playing sites like pandora and rhapsody are just as good.

Last month, I decided to create my own MySpace page. I had one for a few months in college, but decided to deactivate it since I never logged in. I requested several dozen friends of mine as MySpace friends. To this point, SIX of them have accepted my friend requests. Is this there way of telling me that they don’t like me? No. They haven’t accepted my friend request because they have not logged in. Some of these people have not logged onto MySpace in over two years.

On paper, MySpace may always appear to be one of the social networking leaders, but for practical purposes, they have already been passed by, and are fading into obscurity.

Like the Romans, and Europe’s domination in Olympic ice dancing, empires never last forever. The posts on MySpace are going out into the unnotice, internet abyss. You can’t spell empty space without “myspace.”

2 thoughts on “MySpace: the AOL of Social Networking”

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