MySpace is reportedly set to follow Facebook’s lead and launch an API - a move that will have have third party application developers licking their lips in anticipation. 

The News Corp-owned site, which will have noted the popularity of Facebook’s decision to launch a range of tools for developers back in May, is apparently planning to announce its reposte at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco next week. 

According to TechCrunch, its platform will work in roughly the same way and have similar terms and conditions - allowing developers to serve ads within their applications and keep 100% of the revenue.

If true, that would be a big shift in policy for the company, which has been reluctant to relinquish control of advertising on its network, and would likely lead to the emergence of widget-based ad networks targeting the site’s users.

Speaking to players in the space, they seem pretty optimistic about the development – particularly considering the size of Myspace’s audience.

Ivan Pope, CEO of Brighton-based widget aggregator Snipperoo, thinks that the move could be a “turning point” for the Facebook bandwagon – not just because of the potential competition from Myspace, but also because emerging rivals like hi5 and Xanga are moving towards APIs and more will be likely to follow.

John Woods, CEO of Synature, which recently launched its qubox like-mindedness tool as a Facebook app, expects a huge rush of developers to the tools MySpace provides:

“Even given the lure of the huge MySpace audience, we pretty much abandoned our attempts to integrate qubox into MySpace in favour of our Facebook app because the MySpace system was so volatile. 

“I’m sure many other developers have had the same issue. MySpace today isn’t too bad if your app is really trivial, but as soon as you want to offer complex functionality like qubox it becomes a nightmare.”

Though Facebook recently caught up with MySpace in the UK, MySpace still has many more users worldwide.

Recent comScore stats show that Myspace attracted more than 114m visitors in June, compared with 52.1m for Facebook.

John does expect there to be challenges for developers hoping to target that audience, however: 

“In the short term, I think it will be a big challenge for Myspace to support any API and I’d expect to see lots of technical teething problems. 
Facebook has had plenty of those and its core platform was in a much tidier state than Myspace. 

“There could also be some issues with user privacy – Facebook already had a very clean privacy model, so it was easy for users and developers to understand the implications of adding an app.” 

It also remains to be seen whether there will be some level of compatibility between the APIs – something that would, in theory, give Myspace a quick boost in terms of developer uptake, but may come down to each networks’ strategies. Also, if not, will that see the rise of third parties offering cross-platform solutions?

John adds:

“I’m sure there will be all sorts of issues with compatibility between APIs – to be honest, it’s not in the interests of the platform owners to make it easy to move apps between platforms, and personally I think these will last for a long time. 

“We’re excited about the opportunity to get proper integration with MySpace (and other platforms as they come along) and we’re not too worried about the diversity of APIs. The trick is to factor your application so that the common parts work across platforms, and the platform-specific bit is as thin as possible.”

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