MySpace, Bebo Join Google's Facebook Challenge

Includes: GOOG, MSFT, NWS
by: Steven Towns

The Google-led OpenSocial network initiative unveiled earlier this week (full story) received a big boost when News Corp.'s MySpace was introduced as a partner on Thursday. There was speculation regarding the absence of MySpace, which was not among the initially-disclosed list of OpenSocial partners (including Google-owned Orkut, LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning), that it may be pursuing a proprietary platform similar to rapidly growing rival Facebook. However, the inclusion of MySpace turned out to be a matter of timing for a Google-hosted party for OpenSocial. Google and MySpace have an existing advertising revenue-sharing agreement. MySpace's 110 million worldwide users, plus Bebo's (Britain's leading social site) 39 million users, pushes the total users of OpenSocial over 200 million, compared to around 50 million for Facebook. Google and other members say they have invited other social sites, including Facebook, but a Facebook spokeswoman said the company had not been fully briefed yet, although it expected to meet with Google on Friday. Microsoft outbid Google last week to take a $240M stake in Facebook (full story). One analyst says despite the near-term two-camp arrangement, key internet giants such as Yahoo! eBay and Amazon, all holders of "social" data on their users, have "yet to weigh in."

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