MySpace kicked off its developer program Tuesday by providing API's and development tools to tens of thousands of developers, with some unique diistinctions, and restrictions, that it hopes will result in high quality apps.
Developers were invited to its "Sandbox" event in San Francisco to learn more about the rules and regulations for MySpace applications.
-All applications will be launched at the same time, one month from today. Kyle Brinkman, GM of the MySpace Developer Platform, said,"We want a level playing field and we think this will encourage quality over quantity."
This approach penalises developers who work quickly and seek the advantages of time to market--a core principle within the Silicon Valley developer culture.
-All applications have to be vetted to make sure they don't break strict privacy and decency standards. "Each time an application is changed, it has to go back through the vetting process," said Mr Brinkman. I asked how long this process would take? "It will depend upon each application."
This is a potentially huge bottleneck in the development process that could strand thousands of applications from reaching launch date. And it will seriously affect the quality of MySpace applications because developers will be discouraged from making improvements because they will have to go through the vetting process again, and again. It will extend the time to market for their apps. Diligent developers tweaking their apps to improve the quality will be penalized. This encourages a quick-and-dirty app strategy
-MySpace will not seek to discourage copycat application developers. Popular Facebook apps such as Zombies, and others, can be cloned with impunity. I asked MySpace CTO Aber Whitcomb about this issue. "We don't want to get involved in any copycat disputes, we will leave that up to the developers to figure out."
Some developers will be hard pressed to defend their popular Facebook application. Others have patents in place and other barriers against copycats. Michael Cerda, CEO of Jangl, an SMS and telephony application developer, said, "We have negotiated deals with the major carriers, it won't be easy for others to do the same. We also have negotiated deals with major advertisers, we already have revenues. And we have core patents."
Ben Dean, CTO at Jangl, said, "We've developed an internal development system that allows us to publish applications onto multiple platforms, that's a key competitive advantage."
I suggested Jangl should provide its tools as a web based development system for other developers, before others offer similar capabilities. Jangl could take a cut of revenues or better still, offer to hook up its developers with its advertisers. Developers get a rapid app development system plus access to a ready made monetization channel. They both nodded vigerously, "That's exactly what we are planning to do over the next few months," Mr Cerda said.
Jared Kopf from Slide and Adroll said he wasn't worried about copycat competitors. "We will have the best Super Poke app on MySpace," he predicted. Slide is one of the top Facebook app developers and raised a stunning $50m in January 2008, giving it a valuation of more than half-a-billion dollars ($550m.) [Slide Slides Into Some Cash - Brad Stone, New York Times]
I said a quick hello to the still young, very rich, and extremely savvy Max Levchin, founder of Slide (and Yelp, and PayPal) and hit him up for an interview [coming soon...]
Bill Cromie, co-founder and CTO of New York based Nabbr, a distributor of media widgets loaded with premium content, had an interesting perspective on the differences between the SoCal culture of MySpace, New York, and Silicon Valley/San Francisco. "New York and San Francisco startup cultures are more similar to each other than they are to Southern California. The difference is that people talk in big pictures in Silicon Valley while New York is more focused on show me the money." A hybrid culture would be a succesful culture, imho.