MySpace announced earlier this week that they had now established themselves as the number one social networking application on the Android platform and the number three download overall, needless to say, we were a bit shocked. After all, (with no offense to MySpace intended), there are more Facebook users than MySpace users in the world. It's just a simple fact.When
So how did this happen? Is the MySpace Android app that much better than Facebook's? Are Android users more interested in MySpace for some reason? Are they younger than other mobile users and therefore choosing MySpace over Facebook?
As it turns out, the truth is that measuring the mobile downloads of official applications may not be mean anything when it comes to measuring the success of social networking sites.
After scratching our heads for a good ten minutes, we decided to reach out to a mobile expert for help. Peter Farago of mobile analytics firm Flurry had a few ideas, all of which seem more than plausible.
Theory #1: Third-Party Apps
On the Android platform, there are over ten third-party applications which allow social networking users access to Facebook outside of the Facebook official app or mobile website. This means that thousands upon thousands of Facebook users are downloading other Facebook applications which are not being counted towards the official app's total.
Meanwhile, there is only one third-party MySpace application, so most of the downloads from MySpace users are going to the official app.
Theory #2: Facebook Pre-Installs
The Facebook application is pre-installed on the Droid, the most popular Android handset. It's highly likely that those pre-installed copies of the Facebook app are not being counted as downloads on the Android marketplace.
In addition, the Facebook application is included on the Android 2.0 mobile platform, alongside other popular apps like Amazon and Pandora. So again, that's another potential area where Facebook application downloads are not being counted.
Theory #3: Mobile Web Use
Another theory, (this one ours not Farago's), is that some Facebook and MySpace users don't access the sites via apps - they do so via the customized mobile websites. Facebook, for example, has two mobile alternatives to the official app - m.facebook.com and touch.facebook.com. For personal reasons, some Android owners may actually prefer accessing Facebook via these sites instead of by way of the app itself - an app which, unlike its iPhone counterpart, points to the mobile website when you interact with some of its functions, a regular complaint among Android users. In fact, many users actually consider the MySpace app to be the more polished of the two.
Theory #4: All of the Above
MySpace claims that its popularity on the Android is due to "deep integration with the Android platform" and, in their press release, the company mentions the multiple MySpace homescreen widgets for things like voice-enabled updates and photo uploads. The release also notes that the MySpace user base is highly engaged, with 70% of the mobile app users checking in three or more times per day.
However, these are probably not the major reasons contributing to the app's popularity on the charts, where it now ranks #3 overall. It's more likely that the combination of factors described above have more to do with where MySpace stands today on Android. Mystery solved.