Suddenly NewsCorp thinks it "owns" its users ….

We all thought Newscorp would fumble on Myspace at some point; it might be starting.  Look at the recent confluence of social networking news and you will clearly see to what extent the users are now calling the shots:

  • Facebook introduces Feed features that some of its users dislike and gets an immediate large scale rebellion on its hands, leading to a classic post from Zuckerberg (Calm Down, Breathe, We Hear You).
  • Bebo‘s Michael Birch introduces "user-selected advertising" after listenining to the requirements of its users (NMA 17.08.06) – "Your request is our demand, well, as long as we think it’s a good idea."
  • YouTube recently got slammed for content ownership issues in its new terms of use and promptly moved to change its policies.  [Compare and contrast the title of the post to Zuckerberg’s ;-)]

On the back of all this, the MySpace owners arrogantly announce they will replicate Web2 since, after all, it’s "their traffic" (courtesy of Techcrunch)

“If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it’s Flicker, whether it’s Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace,” Chernin said at the conference. “There’s no reason why we can’t build a parallel business.”

We all know who Peter Chernin is speaking to here: investors.  But what is he trying to achieve ? A short-term spike in price share in exchange for long-term decline ?

Fred has a nice analogy to AOL which I could paraphrase as follows: AOL made the mistake of going "walled garden" on the mistaken belief that its access to traffic and premium content would allow it to flourish.  The internet wants to be free, open API is our mantra and so on.  [There is an interesting string of contrary comments which make for good reading.]  But for once I think Fred stops short of capturing the real power of social network users.

I think that younger users, members of the digital era, have truly claimed the space; it’s theirs, it does not really belong to whatever company operates the site, not anymore.  Your users own you; they are extremely vocal about what they like and do not like.  They collaborate in shaping your product.  Your business is officially run by 15-year old girls from now on [or whatever your user demographic might be].  Ignore them at your peril …

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