MySpace: a new competitor to iTunes?
Most of the media have picked up on MTV's launch of a music download and subscription service, URGE, which comes integrated into the newest version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player. MTV should have been one of the leaders in this space and the surprise is that they took so long to come up with an offer.
I wonder whether the bigger news is actually the announcement from NewsCorp that MySpace is to sell downloads of episodes of 24. Could this be the first step towards the reinvention of the social networking site as a commercial platform for the distribution of paid-for content.
It would make sense. MySpace has over 75 million members, and has already become the place where a generation goes to hear new music, learn about new bands and talk about the latest movies and TV programmes. The MySpace player is a well-established and well-used feature of the site, allowing artists to build their fan base by distributing free tracks. It would be a logical progression to create a paid-platform and offer music and video downloads through a MySpace store.
MySpace has the customer base, and no doubt it could procure the catalogue needed to compete with iTunes. To be successful, though, two more things are required. First, a user interface that works as well as iTunes (still the benchmark). Second, a range of compatible and desirable portable players on which customers can play their music or watch their videos.
To date, Apple's competitors have struggled with those two requirements. Can Rupert Murdoch succeed where the rest have failed? He certainly has the financial clout to give it his best shot...