Today, MySpace is launching what may be its last-ditch effort to save itself before owner News Corp makes other plans, or even sells off the ailing company.
With the launch of the "new MySpace," a social entertainment hub that allows for the discovery of music, celebrities, television, movies, games, videos, photos and offline events is revealed. But despite the company's radical changes and improved design, MySpace is still sending mixed signals about its future.
A funny little side note, before we begin: We, like all other tech press, received a press release about the new launch. What struck us as particularly funny was the misspelled website address pointing us to the online press materials. For such a critical moment in a company's history, it seems odd that the launch notice was handled in such a hurried nature. We hope the PR email isn't indicative of the whole shebang MySpace has planned.
New Branding: Clean, Modern, Risky...Weird?
new MySpace looks like it was born this month - it looks modern.For what it's worth, the new beta site is at least very different. It's cleaner and more attractive than in previous years when MySpace had earned a reputation for being the busiest, most cluttered and downright junky-looking social network on the Internet. The
Even the logo got a makeover. Instead of reading "MySpace," the (now black) logo reads "My" followed by a blank. The idea, probably cooked up by the marketing team, is that the blank signifies that MySpace can now mean different things to different people. It could be the place where you obsess over your favorite band or it could be the site you hit up for news on your favorite TV show, for example. It could be the "Gleek" fan club home, the company subtly reminds you through its press-ready image of the Glee topic page.
But the logo's new look is an odd choice, you have to admit. Will the Gen Y target demographic get the logo's intentions? Will they care? Or will this become the day when MySpace gave us the tech industry equivalent of "the Artist formerly known as Prince?" (Don't think it's that big of a deal? Check out All Things D's clever headline then: "The My-Fill-In-the-Blank-Space Reset Is Here..." We're wondering how the geniuses behind the logo revamp feel about that.)
Well, maybe all press is good press.
We're Not a Social Network!
The new MySpace has seemingly thrown in the towel on attempting to compete with the behemoth that is Facebook, or even the growing juggernaut of Twitter for that matter. With the update, it's easy for users to sync their social accounts to MySpace in order to share content from the site to other networks.
As far as the user experience goes, that too is brand-new. Forget the dancing gifs and sparkle text, the updated layout offers topical recommendations based on your interests (apparently powered by an actual recommendation engine algorithm that learns your likes the more you use the site), trending content featuring what's happening "right now" on MySpace - a nod to the immediacy of today's Web - content hubs focused on movies, TV and celebrities offering combined media and editorial, a personalized stream of recommended content, a "My Stuff" tab where the MySpace profile has been relocated to (sans dancing embedded images, mind you), and last but not least - you guessed it - badges. Because badges save everything.
Regular MySpace users can now be promoted to "Curator" status, too. These curators are basically MySpace junkies who contribute so much to the site that they achieve "power user" authority, at which point the network provides them with more tools and resources to expand their influence even further.
We're a Social Network!
We think perhaps MySpace should have killed the profile page altogether. That would have been a truly radical move. But hanging on to the status update box, MySpace "wall," personal photo galleries, the friends list and the profile page music player sends a clear message to users: MySpace is still a social network! If the company really wanted to sell us on its "all newness," the profiles would have been killed off entirely. Who needs profiles anyway, if you're just there to interact with media?
Mobile Coming Soon
MySpace is also promising all new mobile apps, including a mobile beta website and updated iPhone and Android apps. Those probably should have launched first. Didn't MySpace get the memo about the state of the mobile Web? It's kind of big. People could have praised the mobile experience and begged the company to deliver the refresh to the desktop website.
MySpace Worth a Look, but Worth Staying for?
All that being said, the made-over site is worth a look. We're not really representative of the core demographic MySpace aims to attract, but we may poke around to see if Bob Dylan is cranking out some new tunes. Oh he is! And it looks like MySpace does have at least some appeal to old fogies like us - Dylan has 219,908 billion friends according to his profile page! Wait, what? How many people have signed up for MySpace anyway? And here we thought Facebook was king with its half-a-billion users. That shows them!
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