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Cashmore: Why Myspace revamp works

Pete Cashmore
The new Myspace gets rid of its "place for friends" pedigree and instead aims to become a leading entertainment destination.
The new Myspace gets rid of its "place for friends" pedigree and instead aims to become a leading entertainment destination.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Myspace's new challenge is to find a market in which it can be a leader rather than a follower
  • This week it began rolling out a redesign that aspires to rekindle the social network
  • "This lack of media hype around the relaunch is likely a blessing," says Cashmore
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Editor's note: Pete Cashmore is founder and CEO of Mashable, a popular blog about social media. He writes a weekly column about social networking and tech for CNN.com.

(CNN) -- Myspace this week began rolling out a redesign that aspires to rekindle the fortunes of the once-dominant social network. The overhaul -- expected to be complete by the end of November -- also comes with a new logo and a subtle rebranding from "MySpace" to "Myspace."

The new Myspace does away with its "place for friends" pedigree and instead aims to become a leading entertainment destination. But there's little media hype around the relaunch -- and that's a good thing.

Setting expectations

Fortunately for Myspace, few expect the company to return to its former glory overnight. Facebook has clearly taken the social networking crown and Myspace's new challenge is to find a market in which it can be a leader rather than a follower. Given the site's roots in music and its base in Beverly Hills, California, entertainment is indeed the obvious market to tackle.

This lack of media hype around the relaunch is likely a blessing. One recent high-profile relaunch -- that of the social news service Digg.com -- turned sour as the site crashed repeatedly and users rallied against missing features. With the spotlight still firmly on Digg, the site's repeated stumbles have been tracked in excruciating detail.

Perhaps the lower expectations for Myspace will help it avoid a similar fate.

Technical challenges

The scale of the problems being tackled at Myspace is also massive. The site had been, by all accounts, a hodgepodge of design elements built on flimsy technology. Turning around such a company is arguably a harder challenge than simply building a new product from scratch -- it's akin to rebuilding an airplane while it's still in the air.

Not to mention that new web startups are rarely expected to succeed out of the gate. Failure is the probable outcome for most new launches. Many startups, such as those in Silicon Valley's Combinator incubator program, are in fact encouraged to "pivot" -- change their product significantly after launch to better suit the needs of their users.

But big relaunches rarely come with this privilege. These revamps are often declared successes or failures immediately, despite the fact that multiple revisions will likely be required to perfect the formula.

If it can keep expectations in check, however, Myspace could buy enough time to tackle its technical challenges, establish market fit and ultimately keep the plane in the air.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pete Cashmore.

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