The social phenomenon that has taken our laptops, phones, and PCs by storm may soon be pervading our precious televisions as well. MySpace has officially launched its TV widget on The Widget Channel application framework co-developed by Intel and Yahoo! The service allows users to interact with MySpace directly from their television sets.
The release was made in conjunction with Toshiba, which is promoting a new line of TVs designed to be able to connect to the Internet. The Channel has a dock mode at the bottom of the screen where users can easily gain access to the MySpace Widget.
Users of the service are sent updates and links to “My Profile”, “Messages”, “Friend Requests” and “Status Updates.” Clicking on the dock opens the sidebar – a sort of expanded interface allowing users to navigate all functionality of the widget, letting users update their status and mood, view friend requests, read and respond to messages, receive friend updates, and browse profiles and photos.
Over the last decade or so, many may have thought this to be the natural next step for the Internet and its applications. However, us folks at TMV think less people share this view today. I’m unsure as to whether or not this is the smartest move for the company. All I know is that Myspace will have to overcome a number of challenges if this is to be a viable addition to the social networking giant’s business model.
The consensus today is that there will be a drastic shift in the very near future, from traditional advertising spend to online and mobile ad spending. In fact, within this year, the UK may very well see advertisers spend more on the internet than on TV and print. This begs the question: Is pursuing a platform for Television the wisest use of Myspace’s time and energy when advertising spend is clearly veering away from these traditional media?
Personally, I think there are more pressing matters that the company should be addressing before expanding onto a new medium. I can’t speak for the general public, but security problems, accessibility problems, and poor functionality are on the top of my list.
Another issue to take in consideration is whether or not many will take up this service at all? To some, it may seem intrusive. After all, hasn’t television been the stereotypical anti-social pastime? People watch TV to zone out… they watch TV precisely when they don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of the human race. Bring social networking onto the TV screen and we’ll have no escape whatsoever.
Sure, it isn’t the same as walking through Camden market on a Saturday afternoon, or attending a Baldwin family reunion, but it’s incorporating a social aspect nonetheless. To quote the misanthropic Bertram Pincus, “It’s not so much the crowd as the individuals in the crowd that I don’t like.” Many people may feel much the same way while plopped on their living room sofas in front of their TVs.
And what about security issues and viral advertising? The last thing anyone wants is to be relaxing on the couch while some random messages about how someone’s friend’s uncle’s brother guarantees that if they pop pill X, they’ll get two more inches in length and girth in just three days. We’re used to getting spam on the Internet, but TV is a different animal altogether. People want control over their television sets. They are quite happy to relinquish power over the Internet because they never had much of it in the first place.
Television, on the other hand, has been always been quite sacred. Think about it – a £500k ad with Kate Moss strutting her stuff on your TV screen versus a note seemingly written by a fourth grader telling you to click on a link to find out who has a crush on you. I think they’ll evoke pretty different reactions… especially when viewed through a fancy plasma TV while lying in bed or reclined on the living room La-Z-Boy.
I suppose no one can really say at this point whether or not this will turn out to be a viable add-on to the website’s platform. And only time will tell whether or not the average Joe will want to see Kate and Tom side by side on a television screen. As for me, I think the white undershirt is just a tad drab for TV.