Ouch. But make that Myspace, not MySpace, because, as you may have read, yesterday was the official unveiling of the Myspace redesign, in which the "s" is lower case. Having done a little light reading on it, here's what I wonder: "Is the redesign too late - or too early?"
Of course, your default answer to that question should be, "too late." In remaking itself as a "social entertainment" site - looks like I was right back in January when I predicted it would move off its social network positioning - it has surprised exactly no one. It's not just that this seemed the obvious direction for a site that was always closely wed to entertainment (particularly music), it's that Myspace execs, no matter who was in charge, have been saying the same thing for at least a year.
Meanwhile, as it moved the tiles around to perfect its new, somewhat cleaner layout (allusions to deck chairs on the Titanic absolutely intended), revenue and traffic have been dropping - nay, plummeting. According to stats compiled by PC World, last month Facebook had 148.4 million domestic users, compared to Myspace's 57.5 million. Ad revenue is expected to drop by 14% in 2011.
So, it's hard to have a problem with Myspace's new positioning, but why did it take so long? Making entertainment its glue has made sense ever since it lost not just its stickiness, but its mojo. (Yes, I still have only three Myspace friends, including co-founder Tom Anderson.) But now one has to ask the question: "What if they gave a social network (ahem, social entertainment site), and nobody came?" Something tells me they sweated the details on this a bit too much, losing more users in the process.
That said, the new site does have some interesting features. It borrows the "badges" concept from Foursquare to reward people who curate a lot of content. It also allows visitor to incorporate Facebook and Twitter, which is a no-brainer, even if it creates only borrowed interest. Piggybacking on the "it" social services may be one of the most significant ways Myspace can re-enter the conversation - if it has any chance to. It's also a necessary, tacit admission that Myspace isn't the social kingpin it once was.
But there's also a reason why the Myspace redesign may be too early. My reasoning is tongue-in-cheek: at some point, younger demographics are going to want to disassociate themselves from Facebook, or at least have another, separate space to call their own - because it's just too embarrassing to have your grandmother friend you. So, the best way for Myspace to reinvigorate itself might be to circle back to younger demos, which were never on it in the first place. Unfortunately, except for the youngest of the 13-to-35 demo the revamped site is going after, we're not there yet.