The fun thing about MySpace was the ability to customize your profile page with widgets from other (smaller) services such as media-sharing service Imeem or social content-sharing site esnips or slideshow-generating service Slide, or even more well known sites such as YouTube or Photobucket.
For users who don’t own a personal domain or blog, MySpace (despite its privacy issues) is a great way for them to share their identities and personal tastes with both offline and online friends. Besides all of the cool bands there, the personalization is one of the big draws for the millions of teens who hang out there. But lately, it’s becoming more difficult to use third party services on MySpace. I know this because though I’ve found workarounds in the past, now even I’m unable to use many of the third-party services on my personal page.
Granted, the easiest way to hack MySpace is to inject scripts through some of these third-party applications, as has happened there with java-based widgets and Flash-based widgets in the past. But it’s not like MySpace has the business model of either Wallop or Cyworld, where the user’s creative expression is the focus. On both social networking sites, users can purchase widgets and items that enable them to personalize their pages. MySpace isn’t even in the same business as Vox, which accesses the backend of services such as Amazon or Flickr and enables users to feature content from these services on their blog pages. So if that’s not MySpace’s deal, why can’t it figure out a way to make the third=party applications work? The truth is, MySpace could have these services work, but good old competition definitely serves as a factor in disabling access to widgets from services other than MySpace.
Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch had this to say about the issue:
“It’s clear that MySpace isn’t happy with the fact that other services are building their business on the back of their massive user numbers – Peter Chernin, the COO of News Corp. (MySpace’s parent company) said as much late last year and specifically named YouTube, Flickr and Photobucket as services that were “really driven off the back of MySpace.”
Industry insiders have said (and continue to say) that MySpace has had enough of building third party widget providers into massive businesses. They say MySpace is preparing to block all widget providers over time and will let only those who pay a “toll” back in. MySpace PR denies this as well, saying that the January block was a developer error, and not commenting at all on the recent service-specific blockages.
If MySpace does eventually go the route of generally blocking widget providers, except those willing to pay a fee, they’ll be called to the mat for previously saying that they have no plans to do so. And whether these blockages really are developer errors, or in fact shots across their bow, widget companies that rely on MySpace for users are literally quaking in their boots, waiting to see who’s next to get blocked.”
The potential of users becoming frustrated enough with MySpace’s blockage of widget providers to the point of leaving the service could become inevitable at some point. So as a business, what is MySpace to do to keep its users? Does it let down the barriers entirely or does it go into business with widget providers and offer them a revenue share? Or does MySpace think about becoming a widget provider itself? It’s a tough call.