In a Q&A session last night at the Web 2.0 conference, Rupert Murdoch and MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe revealed details on the much rumored plans for the MySpace Platform, a way for third-parties to develop applications that directly interact with and leverage MySpace data and functionality ala Facebook's Platform.
A few key take-aways...
- Prior to the full launch of its developer platform, MySpace will publish a directory of existing third party widgets and tools to help users find good content to add to their MySpace profiles.
- Applications developed for the new MySpace Platform will initially exist in a sandbox environment, where a limited number of MySpace users will have the opportunity to participate in an opt-in beta test program, to determine usability, and help test security. As a result, Read/WriteWeb says that users will vote and ultimately determine which of the third party widgets get tightly integrated into MySpace.
- Advertising will be permitted, but must reside on the application's page only and cannot be placed within widgets that appear on MySpace profiles (as is currently the case).
- Developers get to keep 100% of ad revenue generated from ads running on their application pages.
Obviously, MySpace Platform is being interpreted as News Corp.'s response to the highly successfully -- measured in terms of industry buzz and developer activity, at least -- Facebook Platform. But let's get one thing straight. MySpace was originally far more open than Facebook or almost any other social networking site, and in some respects, still is. Be careful not to rewrite history. Users have always been able to embed third-party code onto their MySpace profiles -- and this has led to a very vibrant widget eco-system. The problem, until now, hasn't been that MySpace was closed to outside developers (it wasn't) but that it was hard, if not impossible, to monetize those applications through ads, or make use of MySpace data (through scraping), without falling foul of the site's terms and conditions. As a result, many widgets were blocked (see my post 'Beware the MySpace eco-system'), often without warning or explanation.
Therefore, while both will be welcomed, I wonder what is more important to third-party developers: an API to access some of MySpace's data and core functionality OR the loosening of commercial activity restrictions. In other words, is MySpace Platform most significant on a technical level or political one?
As usual: watch this space.