It's Baaack: Myspace Plots Another Relaunch
Stop the presses! Myspace is planning a redesign!
I know, I know. Myspace was redesigned in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Meantime the site--which once had more visitors than Google--has been steadily losing members. In January of last year the company announced it would lay off nearly half its work force. It seemed just about time to kiss Myspace goodbye.
Well, maybe not. Yesterday the site announced a coming redesign with stunning visuals. The plan met with skepticism from some, but others, particularly Gizmag's Loz Blain, are seriously impressed. And there may in fact be good reasons to start taking Myspace seriously again. Consider:
1. Star power
When was the last time the announcement of a website's planned redesign got attention from BBC News? This one has, and from a long list of other major news outlets as well. There are two reasons: Justin. Timberlake.
The superstar went in on the purchase of Myspace with Specific Media last year for $35 million, less than a tenth of what Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation had paid for it a few years earlier. Timberlake has offered himself up as a centerpiece for the sexy new video to announce the new Myspace, a contribution that may be even more important than his investment.
Will it be enough to make a difference? It just might. Social-media success is all about getting people's attention, and the video has certainly done that.
As I've noted here before, we're heading into the post-PC era. People would rather use smartphones or tablets than desktop or laptop computers to do ... just about everything. But high on the list of things users prefer not to do from a desk is social media.
The new Myspace appears to know this: It seems designed to look and work really great on a tablet. (For instance, pages swipe sideways instead of scrolling down.) One of Myspace's earlier redesigns was plain and white and looked suspiciously similar to Facebook. This one will remind you of a different ultrasuccessful social-media platform. (Hint: It starts with P and rhymes with "interest.")
Plagiarism aside, the "old-line" social-media services don't seem to fully take advantage of the tablet environment. And people love using their tablets for leisure activities such as posting stuff on social media. If Myspace can make its tablet interface appealing enough, it might start gaining some traction.
3. Facebook imports
The new Myspace will apparently allow you to import all your Facebook friends. This one item would have been a game changer for the beleaguered Google+, and it may make all the difference for Myspace. "One wonders how long that functionality will survive if this becomes a genuine competitor to Zuckerberg's virtual monopoly," Blain ponders. But even if Facebook does change its mind, if enough people have dragged over their entire friends list, Myspace may quickly build up the critical mass it needs to be a contender again.
If so, social-media aggregators like HootSuite may add the service to their interfaces. Websites might start adding Myspace icons to the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest icons that now commonly accompany share-worthy content. And marketers, particularly those in the music or entertainment industry, will have to take notice.
How likely is any of this to happen? It's impossible to say, especially since the video is long on flash but extremely short on any actual information. Beginning with when the relaunch might happen. Next week? Next year? Next century? Even if I were a betting person, I wouldn't bet on Myspace's success. But if things line up just right, it could surprise us all.
MINDA ZETLIN | Columnist | Co-author, The Geek Gap
Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.