Taking a page from Hollywood, MySpace reboots
The News Corp.-owned social network on Wednesday debuts a new logo, a fresh look and a refined focus as an entertainment destination for Generation Y. MySpace hopes to remake itself as place where 13- to 35-year-olds gather to discover new music, movies, TV shows and games — and talk with fans who share similar interests.
Chief Executive Mike Jones hailed the MySpace restart an "exciting turning point" for the site, which long ago was eclipsed by Facebook as the dominant social network.
MySpace is looking to differentiate itself from its more successful rival, Facebook, which last month lured 148.4 million U.S. users, compared with 57.5 million for MySpace, according to online measurement firm comScore Media Metrix. Advertising revenue is similarly lopsided: Facebook is expected to reap $835 million this year, compared with $323 million for MySpace, researcher eMarketer estimates.
The newly constituted MySpace puts entertainment content front and center. The site's redesigned welcome page no longer resembles a high-school locker — it takes its design cues from Wonderwall, the celebrity news and gossip website created by entertainment veterans Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. Individual tiles display the latest news, photos and videos and a real-time ticker providing updates on what others on the site are doing.
Other features include a personalized stream, which features the latest in entertainment content — based on what a user views, listens to or watches, as well as recommendations of relevant topics and people of similar interests.
A new logo seeks to capture the revamped site: an empty bracket after the word "My" represents the space where people can express themselves. (We can see where this is going to be a major headache for headline writers.)
It's unclear whether the ambitious redesign, executed over the course of eight months, will be enough to revitalize MySpace.
EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said that although it's unlikely that MySpace can reclaim past glory — it can still emerge as a relevant entertainment destination for young people.
"The key to their success is going to be exclusive content," Williamson said. "If MySpace can nab Kanye West's new album, if they can nab a preview of that, drive a lot of attention for it, then they'll do OK as a content destination. They'll be able to spin off a lot of content discussion and sharing.
"It remains to be seen whether the artist community and the creative community still considers MySpace a relevent place for launching new product," she said. "That's the challenge."
— Dawn C. Chmielewski
Images: The new MySpace main page and logo. Credit: MySpace