MySpace Gives Developers Chance To Cash In

February 7, 2008 0

New site aims to help developers build and test applications for the social network…

“MySpace plans to celebrate the launch of its Developer Platform Site with a gala event at its new San Francisco offices, offering developers a sandbox full of APIs to develop and test their widgets, before they become available to the public a month later…”

Burlingame, Calif., MySpace’s highly anticipated new open-source platform is being touted as a technical breakthrough for developers of mini-software applications that let users of social networks share music, photos and video, and even throw virtual sheep at one another.

“MySpace will roll out its program in several stages to enable them to deal with problems which might arise one at a time.”

The new MySpace Developer Platform site will be open to developers for a month to build and test applications in a live environment before the applications become visible to consumers in March, MySpace said.

The site includes three sets of APIs — Google OpenSocial with MySpace extensions to enable JavaScript and HTML; action scripts that allow Flash to communicate directly with MySpace APIs; and Representational State Transfer, or REST, APIs to speed up applications.

“In addition, the new site includes a developer team blog that will provide developers with product updates, news and documentation.”

“The goals for the platform at this point are to make sure that developers have all the information they need to start really developing” a robust stack of applications in advance of the public rollout in March, said Kyle Brinkman, vice president and general manager of MySpace’s developer platform.

That way, when MySpace users first access the Application Gallery next month, it will already be populated with thousands of tested, secure widgets they can add to their pages, Brinkman said in a statement.

In addition to being listed in the gallery, each widget will have a profile page, so users will be able to “befriend” applications. Users will be able to embed applications on their pages so all their friends can see them, or keep them invisible so they are only for their own use.

MySpace worked along with Google to develop the API tools in order for the users to build and test applications for MySpace and it will let developers to create programs like those used by programmers on rival site Facebook, BBC News informs.

But what developers are really excited about is a chance to earn some money. MySpace plans to announce a plan Tuesday that will be developer friendly, which means MySpace will provide a control page for developers to essentially own, that in turn can contain advertisements whose revenues will belong 100 percent to developers.

“It is absolutely something we are exploring, and we would love to figure out how to roll that out in the near future,” Amit Kapur, MySpace’s chief operating officer, said to the press about this issue. “We feel that could be a real compelling offer to developers, and ultimately that may be a really great way to differentiate our platform from others on the Internet.”

Previously, “MySpace had prohibited us from monetizing,” says Keith Rabois, vice president of strategy and business development at Slide, an application development company in San Francisco.

“The technical specifications are the least important. We have the ability to develop on multiple platforms. We care about users, the vibrancy of users and the ability to make money.”

Rabois notes that MySpace’s monetization plan is important to Slide because Slide applications are more widely used on the News Corp. -owned social network than on Facebook.

“The future of the global social Web will leverage the creativity of the masses to produce meaningful and diverse social experiences, pushing the industry to be more innovative and progressive,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace, in a statement.

“We are committed to lowering the barrier to entry for developers around the world to build a more collaborative and dynamic Internet, while empowering our members to take control of their online presence in new and exciting ways.”

At this point, security is the only reason why MySpace would block a developer from placing a widget on the site. “The only thing we are going to be screening for is a security review,” Brinkman said.

“In advance of the public launch, MySpace will scan every application for malicious code.”

MySpace applications “will be governed by the same privacy controls that are in place for members,” said CTO Aber Whitcomb. He added that applications “will never have access to information that cannot be found on any member’s profile page,” and they will go through a “rigorous safety review process” before going live.

Once the platform goes live, MySpace might not be able to come through the code of every widget developers submit, but it will deploy a new security tool developed by Google to safeguard against malicious applications. The product is called Caja, and Brinkman described it as a “JavaScript sanitizer.”

RockYou! A developer based in San Mateo, Calif., says it plans to focus heavily on MySpace. “This is the first competitor to the Facebook platform,” says RockYou! Co-founder Jia Shen. “We are going to spend a lot of time developing for MySpace.”

Shen says the MySpace platform is a big step in advancing Google’s open-source social network initiative, OpenSocial, but it is still unclear how the Internet giant will profit from it.

Social-networking platforms are “converging on a model that optimizes the balance between too little privacy on the one hand and too little value for advertisers on the other,” said Andrew Frank, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner.

“He added that MySpace, a member of the News Corp. corporate family, has a culture that understands how to position advertising appropriately.”

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