MySpace gives up in social network race, integrates profiles with Facebook

Troubled social network MySpace has finally realised it can no longer compete against Facebook, with the two companies announcing a partnership that will allow users to integrate information between accounts on either site.

The move comes after the company has spent millions completely redesigning its own site in an attempt to focus on music and entertainment.

The two sites announced the partnership overnight, with Facebook vice president Dan Rose saying users would now be able to integrate their accounts, given that “the content is naturally social”.

The new product, known as Facebook “Mash Up” allows Facebook users to export their preferences between both sites. MySpace will now take information from users’ Facebook accounts, including their “likes” and profile information, to make recommendations for entertainment, such as music and television shows.

MySpace chief executive Mike Jones said in the online press conference the company expects more users will catch on, especially as “already, a million MySpace users have synched their accounts with Facebook”.

“There will be a lot of people who use this to customise their MySpace experience,” Jones said. “And we’re excited about what that means.”

News Corp chief operating officer Chase Corey also told analysts that “we feel really good about this relaunched product”.

“And it has been generally well received with the opinion makers in the business, but we recognise that the critical interest is building interest with consumers… We recognise the challenges we face in doing so.”

But while MySpace was all smiles as the new product launches, Facebook “Mash Up” is also an admission of defeat. For the past few years the two sites have attempted to outdo each other and this new feature is practically an admission that News Corp can’t keep up.

And that announcement comes after MySpace has struggled both with users and internally. Traffic has plummeted over the past few years, with Twitter overtaking the site in unique browsers and users dwindling to just 122 million compared to Facebook’s 500 million.

Reports indicate News Corp launched the redesign to boost the site’s financials, but the company doesn’t reveal specific figures for MySpace alone. Emarketer.com forecasts the site’s ad sales will drop from $470 million in 2009 to $297 million in 2011.

The company has also shed staff over the past two years, and has gone through a number of chief executives including Chris DeWolfe, Jason Hirschhorn and Owen Van Natta.

But while MySpace hopes the integration will help boost traffic, it remains unclear why users will be willing to spend time on the site when they are following the same people on Facebook.

Forrester analyst Augie Ray told Fortune that the move “clearly demonstrates that the MySpace of today is not the MySpace of yesterday… you wouldn’t have seen this level of collaboration in the past”.

Ray claims that MySpace now has the challenge of making sure users return to the site itself, rather than staying on Facebook, and ensuring users are able to actually have a rich experience when they visit by connecting with other sites.

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