MySpace Takes App Gallery to Beta, but Does It Matter?

MySpace makes its Application Gallery public as it seeks to capture some of the social media magic Facebook has enjoyed.

SAN FRANCISCO-MySpace April 24 launched its Application Gallery as a beta, allowing users to check out applications and add them to their MySpace profiles.

Actually, the gallery has been available since March to users who found it, MySpace Vice President of Strategy Steve Pearman told eWEEK at the Web 2.0 Expo here.

The key difference is the home page now has an Application Gallery icon at the top of the page to bring the Gallery out of hiding. Users can access the gallery from the home page through their individual control panels.

To make sure users don't miss it, the Application Gallery landing page will include featured apps to promote applications. Applications will have their own profile pages, similar to MySpace user pages, to let users "friend" any MySpace application.

Despite the secret launch in March, there were 2 million installations of the 1,000 MySpace apps heading into today's beta, a testament to the viral nature-or "virality"-of social apps and a beachhead for Google's OpenSocial as an alternative to apps based on proprietary platforms such as Facebook.

"Even without that destination, you still saw some virality where the people that did find the apps would add them to their profile and other users would Digg it and grab it," Pearman said.

It seems MySpace hopes the applications developers create will blossom among consumers the way SuperPoke, FunWall and so many other social media apps have taken root on Facebook.

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But has the battle been lost? Facebook opened its developer platform in May 2007, nearly a year ago, and some 20,000 applications have been built on it. Will enough users flock to the MySpace apps, increasing the time they spend on the network and, ultimately, padding MySpace's pockets with advertising revenue?

Pearman argued that the answer is yes. For example, Pearman pointed to the mobile world: "If Verizon is so big, shouldn't all of the applications be in BREW?"

Besides, Pearman said MySpace is less spammy in the way it spreads word of its apps, hinting at a nagging problem with Facebook.

Forrester Analyst Charlene Li, who recently co-authored "Groundswell," a book chronicling the social media explosion, told an audience here April 23 that she is tired of people she doesn't know throwing digital sheep at her through the SuperPoke application on Facebook.

"If you get an invite [on MySpace], it's because your friend specifically said, 'I want to send Steve ... an invite to this,'" Pearman said.

Social application maker Slide has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Facebook phenomenon, as founder Max Levchin said at the show April 23 that over 130 million people are using SuperPoke, FunWall or one of the company's other apps from within Facebook.

But Pearman noted that Slide burst onto the social media scene after its slide show app proliferated on MySpace. Also, Pearman said Slide's FunWall is essentially MySpace's comments technology wrapped in HTML.

One thing Facebook, MySpace, Google and other Internet companies will all agree on is that they are still searching for that holy grail of social media advertising.

However, Google founder Larry Page said on Google's first-quarter earnings call April 17 that the search giant is getting better at targeting the social graph with ads.