xingfu
xingfu

MySpace注定要灭亡

MySpace用户能够自行修改用户主页的设计,同时伴有自动播放的音乐,导致整个网站最终变成了一个电子乐横行的万花筒。这种奇异的审美趣味几乎是故意排斥年纪较长的人、智商比较高的人、以及更接近社会主流的人,导致网站与主流人群渐行渐远,并最终没落。

看起来,MySpace在经历了漫长而痛苦的衰亡过程后,终于要寿终正寝,永远安息了。本周新闻媒体对该公司的报道读起来不免有些讣告的意味:目前,这家新闻集团(The
News Corp.)旗下的社交网络正在计划大量裁员。很显然,这是在为减负作准备,以降低公司成本。 《彭博商业周刊》(Bloomberg
BusinessWeek)的一篇悼文详细回顾了MySpace的成长和衰落。此后MySpace就出现了上述动向。

《彭博商业周刊》本周的封面报道题为《MySpace的崛起和可耻的衰落》(The Rise and Inglorious Fall of
MySpace)。该文称“管理上的失误、先天不足的合并、以及难以数计的严重失误加速了MySpace的衰落。”

传媒巨头新闻集团于2005年以5.8亿美元将MySpace收至麾下,其拙劣的管理加速了该社交网络的毁灭,这点毋庸置疑。但是,MySpace到底是否从创建伊始便已注定要灭亡,这点倒是颇有争议。

现在人们已经不大记得,MySpace在人们眼中曾一度是新锐的代名词。2003年创建之初,该网站主要致力于独立音乐,大量乐队纷纷加入,自己动手建立乐队主页,并借此发行其创作的音乐。但是,该网站从未切实尝试利用这些核心用户。任何酷毙了事物几乎无一例外地注定有一天将不再流行。就在MySpace被新闻集团收购之后不久,尽管该网站彼时仍然在不断成长壮大,但有关它会没落的预测已开始四处流传。之后不久,Facebook便声誉鹊起。

Facebook问世之初给人的印象是既具书卷气又够酷,现在,它早已超越了酷不酷的层次。更为重要的是,相比MySpace,该网站的易用性要强出许多,也更为贴近社会主流。与此同时,MySpace依然坚持俗艳的设计,只要点击打开主页,音乐便会自动播放。对于普通用户而言,摇滚小子(Kid
Rock)震耳欲聋的歌声不请自来,随意飘进耳内,没什么比这更令人倒胃口的了。

费利克斯•吉莱特在《商业周刊》的封面报道中分析说,MySpace用户能够自行修改用户主页的设计,其实不失为该网站“最早的一个突破”。最初,由于网站开发人员的失误,反而误打误撞,结果是用户有权在其主页中插入超文本标记语言(HTML),“随心所欲地摆弄各种背景颜色,对其页面进行个性化设计,整个网站最终变成了一个电子乐横行的万花筒。这种奇异的审美趣味最终倒成了该网站的标志。”

对于当时的MySpace用户而言,这不失为一大卖点。但对那些恰恰因为这一点而不愿加入的人而言,它无疑是个漏洞。MySpace几乎是故意排斥年纪较长的人、智商比较高的人、以及更接近社会主流的人加入该网站。相反,Facebook则始终严格控制其用户页面设计,确保其中不会出现耀眼的图形和艳丽的色彩。只要愿意,上了年纪的大妈级人物也可以加入Facebook。重要的是,随着时间的流逝,真的有人这么干了。

正是靠着这种朴素的页面呈现方式,Facebook超越了“酷还是不酷”的问题。现在,对多数人而言,Facebook谈不上酷不酷,那就是它的存在方式。像电子邮件账户一样,它就是个用得着的应用程序。与老朽的MySpace不同,加入Facebook并不意味着就得公开个人的社会身份。MySpace用户一度以“MySpace人”自居,但没人会如法炮制,称自己是“Facebook人”。潮人们与他(她)们的母亲可以在Facebook上互为好友,而没人会因此感到大惊小怪,原因也正出于此。同样地,你可以跟自己的上司在Facebook上成为朋友,而且会欣然接受高中同学的朋友邀请,即便现在你们已经形同陌路。

出于同样的原因,如今Facebook的全球用户数已逼近10亿,而MySpace每个月都会流失几百万的用户;不仅如此,今年1月,该公司曾裁员500人,现在,又计划在仅剩的400人中,再解雇300人。结果剩下的就只有庞大的网络基础设施,迅速衰减的用户群(而且从人口统计学角度看,也不那么有吸引力的),还有那即便不太赚钱但仍然可观的网络流量资源。

当然,导致MySpace没落的原因多种多样。成立之初,它只是Intermix媒体(Intermix
Media)公司的一部分,后者因为一些劣迹而声誉不佳。但是,在彼时的纽约总检察长艾利奥特•斯皮策下令开始对Intermix进行调查之前,当时该公司的所有者拒绝让MySpace独立,之后便将该网站以低价卖给了新闻集团。对一家以新锐为生存方式的网站来说,没什么比成为鲁伯特•默多克的私人财产更糟糕的了。

与Facebook不同,MySpace从未想过融入网络世界,即允许用户在其MySpace主页中随便转贴外部资料,或者使用其账户对外部网页发表评论等操作。MySpace的公司法人背负着实现季度营业目标的压力,这无疑窒息了网站的创新能力。尽管如此,他们也从未想过像Facebook那样从外部品牌寻找营业额的增长点。

但是,即便存在上述种种失误,如果当时MySpace能面向社会各类受众,它仍然有可能存活下来。现在,新闻集团急着以2,000万美元的低价将该网站出手,金额甚至不到其2005年收购价的4%。而Facebook呢?如今其身价已飚升至700亿美元,是MySpace目前售价的3,500倍。

译者:大海


It appears that MySpace might finally find sweet relief from its long,
slow, painful demise. News reports on the company this week read like
obituaries: The News Corp.-owned social network is planning massive layoffs,
apparently in preparation to unload the company for a pittance.

Those developments followed a detailed post-mortem from Bloomberg
BusinessWeek. Its cover story this week, "The Rise and Inglorious Fall of
MySpace," recounts how "[m]ismanagement, a flawed merger, and countless
strategic blunders have accelerated Myspace's fall…"

While it's surely true that MySpace's doom was hastened by News Corp.'s
(NWS) bumbling management since the media giant bought the company for $580
million in 2005, it could be argued that the MySpace was doomed from the
beginning.

It's difficult to remember now, but MySpace was once considered cool.
When it started in 2003, it was largely devoted to indie music, with bands
joining to create profiles for themselves and circulate their music. The site
never really tried to capitalize on that core audience. Anything that's
considered cool is almost guaranteed to fall out of fashion. Not long after News
Corp.'s purchase, predictions of MySpace's fall began circulating, even as the
site was still growing. And not long after that, Facebook began to rise in
popularity.

Facebook, having been sort-of nerdy-cool in its early days, has since
transcended the whole cool-uncool spectrum. More importantly, it was much more
user-friendly and accessible to the mainstream. MySpace, meantime, insisted on
sticking with a garish design and music that autostarted when a profile was
opened. Nothing turns people off like a Kid Rock song blasting unbidden into
their headphones.

In his BusinessWeek article, Felix Gillette argues that MySpace users'
ability to tweak their profile designs was one of the site's "first
breakthroughs." The developers had accidentally allowed users to insert HTML
into their profiles, "allowing them to play around with the background colors
and personalize their pages, leading to the site's kaleidoscopic,
techno-junkyard aesthetic, which became its trademark."

For the site's users at the time, this was a feature. For users who might
otherwise have signed up, it was a bug. MySpace has almost willfully discouraged
older people, smarter people, and more mainstream people from joining. Facebook,
meanwhile, has kept tight control over its design, which has remained free of
blinking graphics and gaudy color schemes. Your elderly aunt could join it if
she wanted to. And as time went on, she did.

Facebook's vanilla presentation has helped it transcend questions of
"cool." For most people, it's now considered neither cool nor uncool – it's just
sort of there. It's almost a utility, like an email account. Unlike with the old
MySpace, joining Facebook isn't about making a statement about your social
identity. Nobody thinks of themselves as a "Facebooker" the way some people once
thought of themselves as "MySpacers." That's why hipsters and their moms can be
Facebook friends with each other and nobody thinks it's strange. It's why you
can be Facebook friends with your boss, and why you readily accept friend
requests from old high school friends with whom you have little in common.

And that's why, as Facebook grows toward a billion users worldwide,
MySpace is losing millions of users every month and is now reported to be
planning layoffs of perhaps up to 300 of the 400 workers it has left after it
let go 500 people in January. All that's left is a clunky networking
infrastructure, a rapidly dwindling (and not very demographically desirable)
member roster, and a source of still-considerable, if not very lucrative, Web
traffic.

Of course, there are many reasons for MySpace's fall. It started as part
of a company, Intermix, that had the stink of sleaze about it. But the owners at
the time refused to spin MySpace off before Eliot Spitzer, then New York's
attorney general, began investigating Intermix, and the site was sold to News
Corp. at a discount. For a site that relies on cool, nothing could be worse than
ownership by Rupert Murdoch.

Unlike Facebook, MySpace also never thought to interweave itself with the
rest of the Web, allowing users to easily port outside material into their
profiles, and to use their accounts to, for example, comment on outside Web
pages. MySpace's corporate owners were forced to hit quarterly revenue targets,
which stifled innovation, but they never thought to seek revenue through outside
brands as Facebook has.

But even with all those stumbles, MySpace could possibly have endured if
only it had simply made itself accessible to people from all walks of life. And
now News Corp. is hurriedly trying to sell the thing off for as little as $20
million, or less than 4 percent of what it paid in 2005. And Facebook? It's
valued at $70 billion - or 3,500 times what MySpace is apparently
worth.