Tech blogger extraordinaire Robert Scoble interviewed Mike Jones, CEO of MySpace, on stage at LeWeb and had to bring up the obvious: “MySpace is like a plane in a death spiral…how are you trying to save this company?”
Jones explained that MySpace is targeting the under-35 crowd and it’s getting heavily involved in the entertainment space—movies, TV shows, music—and that MySpace will become the top spot where users will go to get their entertainment news.
Interestingly, Jones admitted that during the wars between MySpace and Facebook, MySpace had to realize that it was not going to win in the social networking space. “We decided that we didn’t want to be the best at social networking or internal communication tools. We decided to be the best at entertainment,” said Jones, explaining why MySpace partnered with Facebook to increase its user base.
But will News Corp keep MySpace alive long enough to pick itself up? Jones thinks so, but the future looks dismal. When Scoble asked for an audience show of hands of who had been to MySpace in the last two weeks, a sparse smattering of hands rose—less than 50 in a room of hundreds.
Nevertheless, Jones is optimistic, which could be because he’s on stage in front of hundreds of people, but he insisted that MySpace will find its niche in social entertainment. It will not become the new iTunes, nor will it eclipse Facebook, but it will be the space where users go for information on their favorite shows, movies, and music.
To reenergize itself, MySpace redesigned its website some two weeks ago and has seen some positive results. It is also preparing to launch its iPhone app next week. Part of the company’s strategy was to segment its audience into long-term users, new users, lapsing users, those who use MySpace exclusively for social networking, and it had to decide which users to target and which to let go. People who use MySpace exclusively as a social network, said Jones, inevitably lapse. So MySpace has had to get specific about what it wants to be and to whom.
“Five years ago, at the first LeWeb, MySpace was known for going into the clubs and finding new, grungy bands and groups, but these days I don’t really see anything on MySpace that isn’t on iTunes,” observed Scoble.
Jones explained that MySpace is developing a catalogue of new, original music and is actively working on finding the next band and the next music movement, but it isn’t interested in becoming iTunes. Mike Jones looks like a nice guy, but all of this talk of what MySpace isn’t going to be is starting to sound a little redundant. MySpace is not going to be Facebook, or iTunes, or Pandora… So in short, MySpace has no actual entertainment value of its own. It’s hoping to become the number one site that users will visit to learn more about entertainment…without actually being entertained.
If MySpace doesn’t figure out what it will actually offer users, I suspect that next year, even fewer hands will go up in the audience.