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New MySpace mobile debut leaves plenty to be desired

By
January 28, 2013

Mike DiMarco is director of media at FiddleFly

By Mike DiMarco

As someone who spends the majority of just about every day researching and writing about the mobile Web, naturally when a company makes a major launch I simply cannot help but flock to my phone and see what its mobile experience is like.

Such was the case a few weeks back when I finally – he said with an exaggerated eye roll – got my invitation to try out the new iteration of the once-great MySpace.

In case you have not seen the promos, the new MySpace has adopted a Pinterest-like, image-heavy format that lets users catalog and share content, effectively building an online identity based around content that interests them.

Taking it old school
Tack on backing from some guy named Timberlake and even I have to admit the experience looked pretty damn cool – that is until I tried it on mobile.

When trying to sign into my new MySpace account from my iPhone, the log in screen – that is clearly built using responsive design – was virtually unreadable.

The graphics were offset so much that it was not even possible to tap the submit button once you entered your information without turning the phone horizontally.

Trying my best to give MySpace the benefit of the doubt, I pressed on hoping the interior pages would be more efficient only to find the same clunky design throughout the site.

Since we happen to always have an array of devices laying around the office, I tried the experience on several different phones and browsers, but I am sad to report that the experience did not get better. That is, until earlier this month – kind of.

The new version of MySpace recently debuted to the public and while the desktop version has not changed significantly from the beta testing iteration, mobile is a different story.

When you visit the new MySpace from your smartphone, you will now be treated to a friendly little message proclaiming a MySpace application is in development, a kind invitation to put down your device and go use a desktop computer, and an offering of peace in the form of Justin Timberlake’s new music video.

While the folks at MySpace may be willing to launch the campaign that is presumably supposed to reinvigorate the company’s standing in the social media space, it is tough not to think this is a massive under-sight on their part.

Yes, they surely have some really great developers building a likely very user-friendly and efficient app, but launching publicly without any mobile solution in place is playing extremely fast and loose with a market that is growing faster than any in history.

Not only is MySpace launching with no current solution ready, but the “Coming Soon” message suggests they may be getting ready to commit yet another very risky maneuver in mobile, which is going app-exclusive.

Even with a powerful and effective app, many users prefer to simply use a browser-based mobile site. While companies such as Facebook have moved away from Web and shifted back to a focus on native, they still have a very effective mobile Web solution in place as well.

Mobile rebirth
While the MySpace rebirth is still in its early days, I cannot help but think that failing to target mobile as the primary focus of a social media site trying to compete in this market could quickly mean its demise – again.

The new direction may be firing on all cylinders as far as design and eye candy are concerned, but function will always trump in the end.

IT IS NO secret that every social media entity that is even remotely relevant right now has made major efforts to focus on mobile, and if MySpace wants to hold a candle to any of them, it needs to stop worrying about making flashy promo videos, and start making great mobile solutions.

The company has yet to make any formal announcements about its mobile plans – minus the message that an app is on the way, of course – so we may very well see a solid mobile web experience in the near future.

I, for one, certainly hope MySpace takes a cue from the few social entities that have been able to stick around in such a competitive space (i.e., Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) and pour its developers’ time into putting their product in the palm of their customer’s hands.

Mike DiMarco is director of media at FiddleFly, Columbia, MD. Reach him at miked@fiddlefly.com.

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