MySpace, the social network heavyweight looking to get back some of their old momentum is making a big splash with developers this week. On one hand, they announced an innovative, open platform for real-time stream access and more. But will that be overshadowed by a complete lack of care for the community that built applications on top of Imeem, the music service MySpace acquired and quickly shuttered?
Fostering a developer community takes more than just making APIs available. When developers choose to spend time learning your platform, they are making an investment of at the very least time. Sometimes an API needs to be shut down. Companies that don't want to turn developers away will give plenty of warning and even some options. A no-warning flip of the power switch? That doesn't look very good.
It is with the mist of this story still hovering that MySpace announced its own new, unrelated API features. The most ambitious addition is real-time access to their users' activity streams. As ReadWriteWeb notes, this is a big deal:
Myspace's offer to deliver real-time updates to developers is not a trivial one. According to Chief Operating Officer Mike Jones, the company's stream consists of more than 46 million status updates and uploads per day. Some of the unique aspects of the API include the fact that there is no volume restriction for developers.
Developers provide an endpoint URL for MySpace to send new content. Via the API, developers can apply filters--by activity type, location, user--to decide what data they want.
Also announced were APIs to upload photos and integrate MySpace with OpenSearch. As second fiddle to Facebook, MySpace is smartly taking a more open approach to building its platform. That work could be jeopardized by its mishandling of Imeem.
If this is MySpace's idea of how to run a successful music tech company, they have truly lost their way. Imeem was leagues ahead of their competition (MySpace, iLike, and Lala) in terms of technology and openness. They represented the music business of the future. Now they are a forced hyperlink to a cold, un-innovative, MySpace landing page (http://myspace.com/imeem) making false promises and giving no guidance or help for the developer community they just destroyed.
Imeem licensed songs from record labels, which were then made available via its nearly two year-old streaming API. It probably cost a pretty penny to keep it running. By shutting it down, which was fully their right, MySpace saves some money. But it burns goodwill. And it is the lack of a timeline that is most disconcerting to developers.
Along with its new APIs, MySpace announced a contest with $50,000 in prizes. Usually this is a way to court new developers to use a platform in ways its creators never expected. In this case, it might as well be an attempt to buy back some of that goodwill. Are there developers willing to trust MySpace long enough to code up an entry?