Fox Interactive announced today that it has a deal with Sprint to offer one-click access to the new MySpace Mobile portal when it launches early next year. Sprint and Fox have had a mobile relationship since before mobile meant much, in fact. This could be a sneeze turned into a press release, but it's also a good opportunity to examine carrier-based mobile content deals vs. open social networking on mobile.
Early press on the deal says Sprint will be first but it does not say that it will be an exclusive deal. It was around this same time last year that MySpace announced a deal with Cingular that would let that carrier's customers use a Java app for MySpace for $3 per month. Helio, a high-profile handset that operates on the Sprint network, has allowed access to MySpace since last year as well. This week Helio launched a mobile YouTube interface that the company says is the first to allow YouTube users access to their accounts and social features.
The primary question this raises, though, is this: why not just open a free, universally accessible mobile MySpace like Facebook offers? Facebook Mobile is excellent and would provide as good a model for MySpace as the Facebook Newsfeed did for the new MySpace friend feed. (See our coverage of MySpace vs. Facebook in general.) Just add some adds and superfluous pageviews and you've got MySpace Mobile. Perhaps MySpace felt it was not capable of monetizing mobile access except through carrier deals. That would be interesting news for the rest of the industry.
Mobile access could be a key step in MySpace regaining growth momentum, but that seems more likely if the company were to open mobile access to all. It's an interesting trade-off and I wish I was a fly on the wall at the meetings where these decisions were being made.
Tracking the Mobile Content World
Thanks to Forrester's Jeremiah Owyang, who called attention to the news first in my world, on Twitter. We're looking to increase our coverage of mobile news and issues here at ReadWriteWeb. If you're interested in this space as well, you can download an OPML file (a bundle of RSS feeds for importing into your feed reader) that contains some of my favorite mobile content sources and mobile news from our blogs ReadWriteWeb and Last100, filtered via FeedRinse: RWWMobileFeeds.opml. Save the file behind that link, import it into your feed reader and you'll be up to date on the fast emerging world of mobile content. You can preview the live contents of this collection below, using Grazr.