What part of 'walled gardens don't work' don't you understand‾

27 Sep 2007

I don't know how well MySpace's premium approach to mobile (i.e. pay us XX dollars a month and we'll give you mobile access to MySpace) is doing, but its new beta site, launched on Monday, which is ad-funded and therefore free, had to be a welcome move for MySpace users who didn't see why they should pay a subscription fee to access something they could get for free on the "real" Web.

Unless you're an Australian MySpacer who doesn't have an Optus subscription.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, MySpace has blocked Australians from accessing the free version of its site unless they use Optus, thanks to an exclusive partnership deal between the two companies.

I'm sure there must be a really good business reason behind this (like the cash Optus reportedly paid for the exclusive rights, perhaps) that offsets the possible blowback from such a move. Like, I dunno, shutting out scores of annoyed non-Optus using MySpace users that advertisers could be reaching, and possibly annoying them to the point of canceling their MySpace accounts and switching to Facebook or something.

Because otherwise, an exclusive MySpace Mobile deal makes no sense. What possible benefit would there be‾ I seriously doubt users are going to come running to Optus just to get MySpace Mobile for free. And those that do are going to be mighty pissed when MySpace eventually lets all the other cellcos offer it anyway.

Maybe it's just the old mobile deck mentality of having content the competition doesn't, but what sense does it make to have an exclusive on Web content that can be had via any old fixed-line connection‾ Try to imagine Google doing similar deals with ISPs - would it be anywhere near as huge as it is now‾

I don't know the details of the deal, and would love to hear from Optus and MySpace on this - it may be an unintended consequence from Optus' existing exclusive deal for MySpace's premium mobile service. Either way, this is NOT the future of the mobile Internet. People generally access Web content independent of the carrier, and will expect nothing less from mobile. If cellcos don't get that through their heads soon, mobile WiMAX operators waltzing into their service areas with true Web access could well take a bigger bite out of their lunch than they were expecting.

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