MySpace: Large user base, poor user experience
The Key for 2008: Monetise User Minutes: While MySpace wasn't the darling of the media this year, there's no sign its rate of user adoption faltered. It claims some 70 million users who spend 200 minutes or more each month on the site. "If you look at the adoption, MySpace has been going as well as they ever have," says Forrester's Young. In terms of actual monetary growth, it's hard to know how well it does because it's buried within News Corp's $28.7bn in financial data.
For MySpace, the question will be how it can leverage those eye balls and turn them into cash. One way might be to take advantage of the media outlets of its parent, which include Fox News and soon, The Wall Street Journal.
Technology: Time for Extreme Makeover: MySpace needs a makeover. If one goes to set up a homepage, he will find a chaotic, loud mess that has limited choices in configuration. And the whole is thing much less flexible than Facebook. "Where as Facebook has a very sparse and subtle design, MySpace feels like Times Square," says Young.
LinkedIn: Could It Be Cool to Be Square?
The Key for 2008: Playing Catch-Up Apps: LinkedIn is in a unique spot as it approaches 2008. While it doesn't have the glitz and glamour of a growingly diverse Facebook user-base, the site's constant attention to maintaining a professional feel could help monetise its business in more ways than just ads.
According to Young, LinkedIn can explore the idea of helping sales representatives and job recruiters use the platform for lead generation. That said, he says LinkedIn lost its edge by being late to opening its platform to third-party application developers.
Technology: Opening Up Platform, But How Much? When LinkedIn opened its platform for third-party development in December, some seven months after Facebook, Boyd questioned if it was too little, too late.
"LinkedIn is long overdue here," Boyd says. He also notes the innovations that can occur atop LinkedIn's platform are limited given its narrow focus. "It's a big catalogue of resumes and not much else. It isn't incredibly social," Boyd says.
The other thing that could hinder application development will be that LinkedIn might put tight restrictions on what apps it makes available to its users. Facebook and MySpace have adopted a liberal approach to this trend.
"They'll be heavy handed about what makes it on to LinkedIn," says Young. "But I expect the command and control mentality to relax over time."