Over the next month, developers big and small will have the opportunity to begin developing applications for MySpace using the company’s new, OpenSocial-based APIs. Until that month has passed, only a maximum of ten or so users will be able to install each app at a time, ensuring that the period is used strictly for development, testing, and feedback purposes. MySpace has also not given any developers first dibs to the platform and is thereby opening up a fair playing field to all. The applications directory won’t be rolled out, and the user cap lifted, until March when the platform is effectively released for users as well.
This staggered approach to deployment is one of several things that make MySpace’s platform different from Facebook’s, which was released all at once and with several launch partners. While MySpace’s platform will provide developers with the standard canvas pages and profile real estate, it will also allow developers to add functionality to users’ “homepages” (i.e. their start pages that are not shown to friends). This provides developers with the rather unique opportunity of providing users with more private functionality than can be afforded by a profile page. For example, a developer could integrate email and RSS feed capabilities that turn MySpace into a more personalized homepage-type destination in contrast to (and perhaps in support of) its social app pedigree.
MySpace is also allowing Flash on profile pages. Beyond that, much of what developers encounter will be familiar. Canvas pages will be left free for a range of monetization opportunities (ads, sponsorships, sales, etc). MySpace isn’t releasing its own ad network at this time but has suggested heavily that it will develop ways to help app developers make money in the future. All of the data presented by public profiles on MySpace will be accessible to developers, and applications will be able to send notifications to users’ “friends updates” feed.
As for OpenSocial compatibility, company representatives say that 90% of MySpace’s platform aligns with the OpenSocial specification, meaning that OpenSocial developers will have to do a little bit of reengineering to get their applications to work. However, they also say that MySpace is completely committed to making OpenSocial the de facto standard (naturally, they were mum on whether they had explored the option of building around Facebook’s platform spec as well, as Bebo and KickApps have done).