I know there’s a huge iPod accessory market out there. I know.
But it doesn’t change the fact that I think piggy-backing on someone else’s business is not the greatest business plan. And apparently, yet another company had to learn that lesson. Imeem, a media sharing website that integrated into Myspace has been banned from the site. Users are no longer able to embed Imeem widgets. While some websites aren’t exclusively about MySpace, a large part of the viability of these websites relies on MySpace traffic.
Industry insiders have said (and continue to say) that MySpace has had enough of building third party widget providers into massive businesses. They say MySpace is preparing to block all widget providers over time and will let only those who pay a “toll” back in.
In short, if you play by another company’s rules, and that company starts competing with you, don’t be surprised when they change the rules to make you lose. This is an acceptable trade off when you’re just a regular using embedding content, but if you’re an investor in a company, it seems foolish.
Why do people continue to invest in companies whose primary market are users of another company which has a history of aggression against your industry. And believe me: MySpace already hates YouTube. But YouTube doesn’t get banned because it has $1.6 billion and Google’s clout. What’s a no-name company going to do? Nothing. MySpace bans your company and you’re screwed.
While there is a lesson here for us developers (interoperability is good), there is also a yet-unlearned lesson for MySpace. Much like how the iPod accessory market helps keep iPods #1, the MySpace widget ecosystem is what made MySpace so attractive. There’s a reason why people refer to it as an “ecosystem.”
But MySpace has repeatedly stated it intends to clone the best widgets out there and squash external competition. But in reality, given a few years, they won’t have much to clone since their aggressive tendencies will cause developers to shy away from supporting MySpace at all.
I’ll go out on a limb here and call the entire MySpace “ecosystem” a doomed marriage supported by ill-conceived notions on both sides of the aisle.