Is There Anything Really Unique About MySpace?

13 Sep ’06

Techcrunch has a post on the latest Web 2.0 smackdown – MySpace’s COO, Peter Chernin, dissing YouTube and other Web 2.0 apps because ” almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace”. And then:

MultiChannel News is reporting that Chernin said there is no reason why News Corp. couldn’t build parallel businesses, targeting YouTube in particular. “Given that most of their traffic comes from us,” he said, “if we build adequate if not superior competitors, I think we ought to be able to match them if not exceed them.”

Perhaps – MySpace is a recognized phenom, though as my friend Mathew notes, just how phenomenal is open to debate. And it does seem that YouTube’s secret sauce isn’t that secret.

But there’s something in Chernin’s comment that reminds me more of someone milking a cow than building a community. And his comments do make you wonder – what’s sauce for the goose, etc. etc. – what makes MySpace so special? What if YouTube – or someone else with a core community – built their own MySpace? (After all, wasn’t MySpace just built off the back of spam lists?) And would MySpace tightening up its access to outsiders (as Techcrunch warns they seem inclined to do) make that an easier job?

I’ve always thought the MySpace growth curve had something unreal about it – too much of a phenomenon – growth without real merit, perhaps. And for a while I’ve wondered why someone else doesn’t just come along and take their lunch money – especially now that they’re owned by a large soul-less evil corporation (!). Kids after all, are notoriously fickle, and will do almost anything in their neverending quest to be completely different – in exactly the same way as everyone else. But in any event, for the same reason that I doubt YouTube will have much success pushing ads before their videos, I doubt MySpace will have much success if it starts milking the audience. And it would be an interesting test of just how unique MySpace really is.

Update: It occurred to me – too late – that a better title for this post might have been “Is MySpace 1.0 Trying to Become AOL 2.0?”

Update: More from Rick on the AOL comparison.?

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