Kara Swisher

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The My-Fill-In-the-Space Reset Is Here, as Struggling Social Network Morphs Into Entertainment Hub

Empty bracket or no empty bracket: Will it work?

That’s pretty much the big question at News Corp. tonight, as its much beleaguered social networking site, Myspace, rolls out a new beta version aimed at shifting its fortunes.

And how will it do that? By moving dramatically away from its roots as a social networking site–and far, far away from powerhouse Facebook–and becoming a “social entertainment” hub aimed directly at the Gen Y audience.

That means heavy emphasis on the sharing and discovery of music, television, movies, games, videos and photos from within Myspace and without. There is also an upcoming new mobile site and better apps for smartphones and tablets.

And it also includes a new logo that features “my” with an actual fill-in-the-space bracket after it.

By the way, it’s now “Myspace”–dropped second cap–rather than the old “MySpace,” and the new color palette is black, not blue.

It is a bold, if risky, move, which could result in a dramatic decline of users or–despite the grim reality of second acts on the Internet–reset Myspace to begin a new cycle of growth.

For sure, as you can see from the screenshots below, it is a cleaner, hipper and much more attractive offering, with a tile format, ridding Myspace of its longtime cheap and noisy feel.

You can still toggle to a list or video view of the homepage.

Still, Myspace continues with the irksome moving parts, such as continually updating live notifications and real-time rolling number tickers that move constantly as people share various content.

It sort of reminds me of that national-debt clock in Times Square in Manhattan, but not as riveting.

Amid the better ability for bands and artists to more easily attract fans and promote themselves on Myspace, regular users can also become social arbiters–called “curators”–by active and useful sharing of their tastes.

And, perhaps most important of all, you can bring in a lot of outside sources, broadcast out to Facebook and have a two-way feed with Twitter.

Behind the scenes, Myspace has also done a major overhaul of its tech structure, which has been much maligned. In fact, it was once described to me as being made of “bubblegum and baling wire.”

Here’s an appalling stat, for example: There have been 117 different Myspace logos created for the service.

We’ll see how it goes, but here are videos Myspace did about the launch, including a logo-ganza:

And here are more screenshots than you ever would want (click on the images to make them larger):

Finally, here is the official press release:

MEET THE NEW MYSPACE

Myspace Debuts New Brand, Beta Website and Suite of Products That Focus on Social Entertainment for Gen Y

Beverly Hills, October 27, 2010 – Today Myspace announced a new brand, beta website and a suite of products that together redefine the company as a social entertainment destination for Gen Y. Myspace is creating a rich, highly personalized experience for people to discover content and connect with other fans who share similar interests. The entertainment experience will span music, celebrities, movies, television and games and will be available through multiple platforms, including online, mobile devices and offline events.

“This marks the beginning of an exciting turning point for Myspace. Our new strategy expands on Myspace’s existing strengths–a deep understanding of social, a wealth of entertainment content and the ability to surface emerging cultural trends in real time through our users,” said Mike Jones, CEO of Myspace. “Myspace is unique in that it is powered by the passions of our users, who program the site by expressing interests, sharing tastes and knowledge around particular topics, and scouting out up-and-coming subcultures. This is the just the first step and there will be many more features, programs and improvements to come.:

Specifically, Myspace will provide people with the ability to:

  • Discover and engage with Myspace’s broad array of programming, including originals, exclusives and content from around the Web.
  • Express, collect, and display their creations and interests on their profiles and through sharing tools.
  • Connect to other fans with similar tastes.

Myspace will also focus on promoting curators–a subset of its audience whose reputation and knowledge around particular entertainment topics and emerging cultural trends make them uniquely influential–by supporting them with the resources, tools and a platform to expand their reach within the Myspace community.

    Newly Designed Beta Site

Myspace has completely rebuilt its website, with a new visual identity and product features that put content center stage. From the color palette to the way the site is organized to the improved navigation, everything has been redesigned to help people easily find relevant content.

The redesigned Myspace welcome page showcases fresh content as it bubbles up across the beta site in real time. Additionally, once a user logs in to Myspace, the page will instantly populate with content based on the individual’s interests, creating a unique, contextually relevant discovery experience.

Registered users can now also toggle between three different views of the homepage, each specifically designed to display their stream in the way that resonates most. These include:

  • List view: Traditional view
  • Grid view: A magazine-like format
  • Play view: A video format that allows users to watch, forward and resize their updates to full screen

To complement the online experience, Myspace will soon release a mobile version of the beta site, accessible on any mobile browser. A new Myspace app for iPhone and Android devices will follow later this year.

New Products

Myspace has released a suite of initial features that empower people to discover, collect and display entertainment content, while also offering tailored recommendations. These features include:

Topics–Myspace features more than 20,000 entertainment-focused, dynamic pages organized around topics. These pages provide a centralized location to view aggregated information about specific subject matter from a wide variety of news sites and blogs including MTV, Los Angeles Times, Access Hollywood, New York Times, Village Voice and Just Jared.

Content Hubs–These comprehensive entertainment destinations are specifically dedicated to movies, television and celebrities. The pages combine programmed editorial with trending articles that feature news, videos and photos from various content partners. Additionally, each individual article within the hubs recommends related content and topics. Hubs focused on games, comedy, sports and fashion will be revealed in the coming months.

Personalized Stream–The new stream automatically learns what to feature based on a user’s preferences and habits, so they see more of what they love and less of what they don’t.

Recommendations–This feature recommends relevant topics and other fans based on algorithms that learn the type of content a user views, listens to or watches and from whom or where they discovered it.

‘Right now on Myspace’–This feature shows trending content in real time on Myspace, helps fans find recently added music and videos, and lets them listen or watch right from the interactive chart. Myspace uses these trends to inform recommendations that promote discovery and engagement.

Discovery Tab–This always accessible tab combines videos that friends are watching with what’s trending in real time on Myspace. Scroll to the top of any page and the new Discovery Tab drops down as a horizontal film strip.

My Stuff TabMy Stuff is an easy way to see all that’s personal to a user – their profile, photos, videos and uploaded content, structured as a drop-down menu with different content areas.

Badges–This feature recognizes and rewards curators and fans for their social activity around entertainment topics on the beta site and promotes them with badges – graphic icons that appear in a user’s stream.

New Brand Identity

Myspace has also introduced a new logo that captures its revamped brand identity and values. The bracket in the logo represents a space where people can express themselves, enabling users to personalize the logo and make it their own–just as they can throughout Myspace.

The newly-designed Myspace begins rolling out today in beta and will be available to all users worldwide by the end of November. New users will have immediate access to the beta site. For more information, please visit www.myspace.com/newmyspace


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