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MySpace now on US mobile phones

Deal enables social-networking on the move

MySpace has launched a service in the US that lets Cingular Wireless subscribers use many features of the social-networking portal on their cell phones.

For $2.99 (£1.50) per month plus standard use charges, Cingular subscribers can download a Java application that lets them blog, upload photos and update their MySpace profiles, among other things. The service, MySpace Mobile, is available now on select handsets.

The offering represents the first big mobile deal for the News Corp’s popular portal, which claims 80 million active users. MySpace already offers some capabilities to users of Helio, a relatively small-scale mobile joint venture from SK Telecom and EarthLink. Many would-be competitors have tried to emulate MySpace's success on the web, and mobile devices present a new opportunity to capture social-networking users and make them loyal.

Other MySpace Mobile features let subscribers read and reply to their MySpace messages, view and manage their friend requests, post comments, and view the profile, friends list and groups list of any MySpace user. For now, MySpace is leaving out video, said Amit Kapur, MySpace vice president of business development. Video may make it onto the service as mobile devices and networks improve, he said. Also, the mobile client cuts down on the elaborate graphics and wallpaper that can make MySpace pages slow to fully load even on the web.

To appeal to the big audience of Cingular's more than 58 million subscribers, MySpace is offering a simpler interface than it does for Helio's mobile-browser-based offering, Kapur said. The process of creating blog entries will be similar to standard mobile text-messaging and can be used for quick, short entries. The entries will appear on both the user's mobile and web pages.

The Cingular deal will be exclusive into next year, but MySpace intends to make mobile access ubiquitous across the US mobile market in 2007, Kapur said. It also is looking into mobile offerings in other countries.

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