In The Crosshairs: Facebook

Post ImageThe tech industry really amazes me sometimes. Everyone knows that it moves fast, but I don’t think the average person realizes just how fast. The status quo can change overnight. I’m guessing Facebook knows this better than anyone or any company right now:

Google may have just come out of nowhere and checkmated Facebook in the social networking power struggle. MySpace and Six Apart will announce that they are joining Google’s OpenSocial initiative.

Here’s the big question – Will Facebook now be forced to join OpenSocial? Google says they are talking to “everyone.” This is a major strategic decision for Facebook, and they may have little choice but to join this coalition.

Essentially what Google is trying to do is make something like Facebook’s Platform available across the entire web. If you build an application for Facebook today, it only runs on Facebook. If you build an application for Google’s OpenSocial, it will run on any site that supports it – and so far, that’s almost every social networking site except Facebook.

Erick Schonfeld is absolutely right – the ball is in Facebook’s court now. They could handle this very well and come out on top, which is what I think they’ll do. My guess is that they will support OpenSocial eventually. Or they could handle it very poorly and screw up everything they’ve got going for them.

OpenSocial has been the hot topic for the last couple days, and there’s a ton of stuff up on TechMeme if you want to read more about it. This post from Dare Obasanjo will definitely make you stop and think, so make sure you read it:

In thinking about the Google OpenSocial Announcement I realized how much some of Google’s recent moves remind me of Microsoft of old [for some undeclared definition of old].

The five reasons Dare suggests all make sense to me. Still not sure what to make of that.

UPDATE: After thinking about this some more, it occurred to me that the headlines streaming across the web today would probably confuse the average Internet user. I mean, the average user probably uses both Google and Facebook in a (mostly) mutually exclusive way. Google is for search, Facebook is for wall posts. A headline like “Google vs. Facebook” would seem somewhat strange to that user. Or am I not giving the average user enough credit?

Read: TechCrunch

Thoughts on the MySpace Presidential Primary

Post ImageTechCrunch posted yesterday that MySpace is going to be holding a presidential primary on January 1st and 2nd, 2008, which is before any of the official state primaries. Every member will be asked to vote for their favorite candidate. Michael Arrington makes a good point about why this should be done on Facebook instead:

Facebook’s user accounts are each tied to an email address or cell phone, resulting in far fewer fake or duplicate accounts. Given the low quality of the MySpace user base (multiple accounts, no identity check, etc.) it would be relatively easy for a campaign to create a significant number of fake accounts to stuff the ballot box in their favor. Facebook can also tie their users to U.S. residency much easier than MySpace.

I would add another reason: Facebook is not owned by News Corporation! Not that I would expect Facebook to be completely impartial, but more so than the owner of Fox News.

I don’t think anyone is going to take the results very seriously, but I like the idea regardless. Anything that might make politics more relevant to the younger generations is worth trying. So far Barack Obama has a massive lead in terms of the number of friends he has, but expect the other candidates to catch up.

Read: TechCrunch

A Rant About MySpace

Post ImageI hate MySpace. I simply cannot stand it. The navigation is horrible. The design is ugly. Their URLs are the most unfriendly ever. Random people add me to their “friends” list. Users have too much control over the look of the pages…which usually means that they end up making the pages painful to look at. Dancing text, repeating background images that were never meant to repeat, music that starts playing automatically, etc. I really cannot fathom how so many millions of people use MySpace on a daily basis.

Quite possibly the only thing I like about MySpace is that it runs on .NET and is therefore an excellent case study/example. But that would be the only reason.

Every single time I look at MySpace I cringe. Maybe I just don’t get it?

Google passed on MySpace

Post ImageThe July issue of Wired includes a feature on News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, and what might be his current crown jewel, MySpace. The main value that MySpace provides the company is “the power to make hits.” Ever hear of Dane Cook? He’s a really popular comedian probably because of his MySpace page. The Arctic Monkey’s are becoming popular in North America with help from their MySpace page. Lots of celebs have them now. MySpace is huge, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Of particular interest to me, Murdoch claims that Google passed on the opportunity to purchase MySpace, for about half the price News Corp. paid (which was still a steal). Murdoch says:

I like those guys, but theres a bit of arrogance. They could have bought MySpace three months before we did for half the price. They thought, “Its nothing special. We can do that.”

This, dear readers, is what happens when you’re a media company that thinks you’re a technology company. I’m not sure it’s arrogance, so much as it is this incredible desire to be a technology company that blinds them from making any rational decisions. Google’s big three (Larry, Sergei, and Eric) all have technology backgrounds, yet Google is very clearly a media company. Almost all of their revenue is derived from advertising, and they increase that revenue with more eyeballs, not necessarily great technology.

As Om Malik points out, Google really, really, should have bought MySpace when they had the chance:

As widely reported, MySpace is now the largest source of search traffic for Google, accounting for over 8% of their inbound traffic as of early May. That essentially means that MySpace is responsible for about $400 million of Google’s annual revenues. Knowing this, MySpace is trying to capitalize by holding an auction for its search business. If Google wins, it will end up sharing a significant percentage of that $400 million with MySpace… John Battelle thinks the split to MySpace will be close to 90%. And Google would need to pay it every year. Needless to say, had Google acquired MySpace, no such payments would have to be made.

Om also points out that Google+MySpace=Largest-Site-on-the-Web. Or at least, that’s what could have been. More eyeballs than anywhere else. A media company thinking like a media company would have purchased MySpace, no question.

News Corp. doesn’t have any such delusions. They’re a media company. They purchased MySpace.

[In case you’re wondering, my very plain, very boring MySpace page is here.]

Read: Wired

Arctic Monkeys

Post ImageIf you haven’t heard of the Arctic Monkeys yet, you will soon enough. I was introduced to them a few weeks ago when I heard their single “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” (yes, like Fallout Boy they seem to enjoy incredibly long song names) and I have really started to like them since. And I am not the only one apparently:

The musical impact the Arctic Monkeys have had in the past six months, on a global scale, is astonishing.

Not content with creating the fastest- selling British debut album of all time in the shape of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the band have also made serious inroads into a fickle American market with a record that is based on the British vernacular experience.

That’s right, fastest-selling British debut album of all time. Faster than Oasis, The Beatles, you name it. If you know nothing about popular culture, that’s fast kids! Apparently the band still isn’t used to the celebrity parties, despite having already met stars like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg.

I encourage you to check them out! They have a very unique sound (and a unique name for that matter) and have been getting rave reviews for their concerts. The band also seems to “get” the current trends in pop culture – they have a MySpace profile!

Read: Arctic Monkeys