FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Who Will Be the Next MySpace?

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, MySpace is being positively fawned over. And there's little wonder why. After all, MySpace is the classic web startup success story, going from the brainchild of two friends in 2003 to 70 million users and its sale to News Corp. for $580 million in the space of two years.

A multitude of startups is now hoping that lightning will strike twice. Sites like TagWorld and VarsityWorld are building on MySpace's social networking model, but are hoping to offer a difference. TagWorld's edge is technology, including shopping and the ability to store documents; similarly, a site called Imeem integrates chat tools. VarsityWorld promises to supervise user activity, seeking to make its bones by exploiting the perception that MySpace can be inappropriate and even dangerous for its teen audience. (To that end, there may be an evem more lucrative market in the field of MySpace add-ons, such as tools that could help parents monitor their kids' activities or aid marketers in data mining by searching for and analyzing discussion topics.)

All of these MySpace wannabes currently have only a fraction of the original's user base. By chasing after a fickle and ever-changing audience of young people, they hope to capture some of that golden attention. However, they need to have the right feature set at the right time to generate the right buzz. And the gold rush could go bust quickly if that audience decides to abandon social networking sites altogether.

Source: Wall Street Journal