Quick Hits: A MySpace Makeover
Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.
Veteran social-networking Web site MySpace.com (News Corp (NWS)) will unveil a fresh face, product of a six-month redesign project, Wednesday. On top of a revamped appearance, MySpace users will have access to improved site navigation, search features, profile editing and the MySpaceTV Player. The new MySpace will also boast heightened security and accessibility from cell phone and instant messenger services.
While MySpace addicts are likely twitching in anticipation of these new features, the site's digital facelift is actually targeted at its non-users. The development project aims to make the site more appealing and accessible to older, non-tech users, in hopes of tapping into a demographic not yet won over by the social-networking phenomenon.
Expanding its membership (read: infiltrating generations whose profile pictures are unlikely to feature midriffs and bedroom eyes) is MySpace's attempt to keep up in the rat race to hold onto one's share of online-ad revenue, a nearly $50 billion market.
MySpace's biggest competitor, Facebook, has expanded its revenue by hooking up with Microsoft (MSFT) to sell banner ads, along with allowing its users to buy personal ads and $1 virtual gifts. You can bet Yahoo (YHOO), AOL (TWX) and others in the competitive social networking arena are keeping a close eye on the changes.
MySpace's tactic makes sense: more users, more ads. But will a more user-friendly site be enough to lure Internet-minimalists into the social-networking community? It's no sure thing. Adolescents are hooked in by fascinating frivolities, like making sure they maintain their rank in their BFF's "Top 8." Parents may be enticed by the ability to monitor their child's social life. But Internet users just growing comfortable with daily e-mail checks may not be interested in keeping up with an online community.
If the plan to expand does work, MySpace can look forward to an increase in ad-revenue. And the rest of us can look forward to an increase in the average age of online predators.
For more on social networking sites, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report:
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