In Defense Of Myspace

MySpace announced this week a “new brand, website and a suite of products that together redefine the company as a social entertainment destination for Gen Y.”

In English: They’re redesigning how the site looks and how it works.

The announcement was met with ridicule. The phrase “Does anyone even use MySpace anymore?” was uttered enough times to make a guy start to feel bad for some hard-working designers and developers toiling away on what must be a fruitless endeavor.

But marketing and tech blogs were abound with analysis (or, in many unfortunate cases, just some “analysis” — with intentional, derisive quotation marks included) about the announcement. So what can an amateur tech analyst like me add to the discussion?

This: A ton of people still use MySpace, and this redesign is only going to solidify that.

Web traffic reporting service Compete.com says MySpace had 60 million unique visitors last month, counting only U.S.-based traffic. That’s slightly down but mostly flat during the past 12 months. For comparison’s sake, Facebook has seen consistent 5-or-so percent growth per month, resulting in 130 million unique visitors last month. But Facebook is the third-most visited site on the Web, for god’s sake. It’s not like MySpace vanished from existence. It holds up pretty well at 14th on that list, beating out behemoths like Microsoft, AOL and MapQuest.

And consider this: When pressed to name one true bit of value MySpace provides, just about anyone will say, “music.” The ease with which I can visit just about any (still active) band’s MySpace page and instantly listen to just about any song or album is pretty killer.

The folks running the show know that, and they are refocusing, as our local Fox affiliate reported, “on becoming a place for Generation Y to share music, movies and other media.” The social networking aspects of the site are downplayed; personal profiles and listings of interests basically serve as fuel for the personalized content Myspace will present to users when they visit the new site.

Success on the Web is not a zero-sum game. MySpace is taking a big step, putting its best foot forward and essentially putting the rest on the back burner. What more do you people want?