Is the New Facebook Deal MySpace’s Final Surrender?

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MySpace — now with more Facebook!
MySpace — now with more Facebook! Photo: Jed Egan, Facebook, MySpace

Way back in 2005, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch was celebrated as a visionary for buying MySpace for a mere $580 million. MySpace, man, the kids are all over that thing! Teenagers are never fickle. Just throw some ugly ads on there and watch the cash roll in! It was considered such a coup that Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone fired his favorite chief executive for letting MySpace get away. But as traffic shrunk, users defected, and the network's spammy, porn-y ads, and spammy, porn-y profiles made the site into a "digital ghetto" — complete with white flight! — it looked like less and less of a good idea. Still, Murdoch did not divest. Although the war of the social networks was won a long time ago, the deal Facebook and MySpace just announced, in which MySpace will integrate fully with Facebook Connect, called "Mashup with Facebook," which will allow users to synch their MySpace accounts with Facebook and log-in via Connect, looks like a white flag. Well, maybe not a white flag as much as a desperate gasp for breath in the middle of its death throes, but, you know, either way.

Not to worry, though, it's all part of MySpace's relaunch as a "social entertainment portal"!

Back when the relaunch was first announced in August, the changes sounded an awful lot like an attempt to fix MySpace by turning it into Facebook. Hello, news feed! Nice to see you again, "people you may know"! But along with the overhaul to a sleeker user interface came the decision to redefine itself as an "entertainment network" (i.e. step out from under Facebook's heel). In the new model, users would use MySpace to organize their preferences for brands, TV shows, and movies, and share playlists. The problem, of course, is with no one actually on MySpace, it doesn't have any recent data on what users watch or listen to. Enter Facebook Connect.

As recently as last week, MySpace CEO Mike Jones wasn't dignifying rumors about an integration. But today's announcement shows their hand was forced. One Silicon Valley entrepreneur told the Telegraph, "They have to. They need the same audience to come to MySpace, that now goes to Facebook, if their re-launch to a social entertainment portal is going to have any traction." Making the deal even more embarrassing, say TechCrunch's sources, is the fact that Facebook can only be bothered to make one of its vice-presidents available for the event.

But even with the integration, the MySpace 2.0 — and its very pretty new homepage — sounds like a losing bet to us. Why is synching up preferences you've already input in Facebook a plus in MySpace's column?

Plus, since the last time MySpace was popular, lots of other sites have cropped up that let users watch TV and movies and share music playlists. Even if it finds a new way to help users share and play TV and movies, that's just not what they're known for. It seemed like the best thing the site had going for it was listening to music or finding new bands who might not yet be on YouTube. The relaunch, which is much broader than that, seems like too big a reach, too late in the game.

MySpace 'will be forced to allow Facebook Connect' [Telegraph UK]
Hell Freezes Over As MySpace Fully Surrenders To Facebook [TechCrunch]
You Can Now Login to MySpace with Facebook [Mashable]