For months, we've been fielding rumors (and filtering out the facts) about MySpace's proposed redesign and rebranding.
Tonight's report on TechCrunch outlines a few minor details of the overall plan to stop the site's hemorrhaging users and stem its financial decline. As we've known (and as we predicted last year), the site will shift its emphasis from pure social networking to content discovery and recommendation. The site's tagline is expected to change to "Discover and Be Discovered."But is that really enough to bring users back? What would it take for you to start regularly using MySpace again?
Disclosure: The writer of this post has been privy to a great deal of internal information about the redesign due to personal connections in the L.A. and S.F. offices. Because of confidentiality issues and NDAs, much of that information cannot currently be published here. We will do our best to let you know official MySpace news as it breaks.
With the abrupt firing of CEO Owen Van Natta two weeks ago, we are reminded of his initial duties when he was hired less than a year ago. In addition to dealing with internal politics and negotiating the end of MySpace's ad deal with Google, Van Natta was expected to give MySpace much-needed boost in the areas of technology, branding and features.
While it's unknown exactly how much of the forthcoming "new" MySpace will represent Van Natta's vision, we do wonder if anything is enough to save that sinking ship. Of course, the site still has a large userbase, particularly in the international market. But what do techies want to see before they start using the site again?
The outlook isn't good, to say the least. We conducted an informal poll on Twitter, asking what folks would need to call themselves MySpace users. While a slew of respondents said bribes - from money to puppies to MacBooks - would do the trick, the noble @EricBurgess replied "They couldn't even pay me." @_Tycho_ wrote that the site would have to "be easier to use than Facebook, and then convince my friends to all go back on." A tall order, indeed, and one echoed by several others.
But usability and attrition/retention aside, many users gave a common ultimatum: MySpace would have to do anything they try - from social networking to content and beyond - better than Pandora, Facebook or Twitter do the same things.
Granted, in terms of content discovery, Facebook's not particularly kind on musicians or filmmakers; as evidence, you can check out some of the remaining MySpace users. If you've visited the site lately, your list of active friends might look like a wasteland of struggling bands. But is a new content recommendation engine packed with multimedia goodies and intuitive discovery tools enough to regain the public's love and trust?
What do you think - is a site redesign enough to make you want to use MySpace again? Can the site succeed as a content platform rather than a social network? Or is MySpace doomed to sink like the Titanic, regardless of the products or features they roll out?
Let us know your opinions in the comments.