1. It's all in the interface. MySpace has an interface that worked great for the year 2000, was looking a bit long in the tooth by 2005, and feels ancient in 2011. The fact that something newer and friendlier never came to pass has been one of the factors that caused the user exodus to other platforms. For artists and bands, that meant BandCamp, Nimbit, etc (see yesterday's post on artist helper services).
2. The rise of Facebook. When NewsCorp bought MySpace, Facebook was still a relatively small social network confined to only colleges. Soon afterwards it was opened up and social networking really took off, thanks to it's clean modern interface and interactive features like gaming. MySpace just couldn't compete.
3. Social media and music don't mix, yet. While MySpace was a social network in essence, it almost felt like it was built around music. Facebook is built around true social interaction and isn't particularly great at music, but that hasn't hurt Facebook one bit and maybe even lead to its success. As we've seen from iTunes Ping, social networking built around music hasn't attracted a huge audience yet.
4. The culture of NewsCorp. Let's face it, large corporations aren't particularly noted for their innovation. Small companies headed by entrepreneurs push technology forward, but Big Inc. speed is that of a glacier. MySpace needed to get better fast, but that never could happen in a big public company culture of Newscorp or any other, for that matter. This marriage was doomed from the start.
5. The march of technology. An online tech company seems to have a somewhat short lifespan almost by nature. Already we're beginning to see some user attrition on Facebook, which looked like a juggernaut that would only keep increasing its user base. It wasn't that long ago that Google was unbeatable, but several of their ventures have ground to a halt and the perception is that they're turning into the new "evil empire." No matter how big, it's not beyond the realm of reason that an online company can either be gone overnight or it's business model changed completely. Why should we be so surprised it happened to MySpace?
In the end, MySpace could have lead the revolution. Instead, it's just a speed bump in the social networking road. Can it be reinvented? Only time will tell.
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