MySpace backs UK developers with cash-prize competition and events

MySpace is launching a UK MySpace Developer competition to build “the best sustainably social application,” and they’re throwing some money into the pot to incentivise developers out there. It’s obviously an attempt to kick-start more MySpace apps, but at least they are putting their money where their mouth is.

Due to be announced at the the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) conference in London today, the competition is a call to software developers to create the ultimate MySpace application, as you’d expect. There’s going to be a juding panel to assess who wins the prizes, and the judges will be looking for how well the application enhances user-to-user interaction on social networks, with a key criterion for success being ‘sustainable sociability’. What does that mean in English? It means the user keeps the app in their profile and engages with them for months, not minutes. That’s quite a hard thing to do. I think it will be interesting to see who wins, because the models they use could well be applied to lots of other platforms.

MySpace is really getting behind developers in the UK, which is good to see. The latest I have on Facebook is that the London Facebook Garage is also doing some some informal “App Awards”. But without much formal backing from Facebook here they are having to resort to awards like ‘Wackiest App’ and you won’t get any money if you win. That’s not the Garage’s fault – Facebook should back more real competitions in the UK.

MySpace is also going to host some regional developer conferences and is launching something it calls the London Code and Coffee Club, though I haven’t got details on that as yet (maybe someone from MySpace will put the details in the comments?).

Entries will be accepted from 1st November, with the top ten applications are being put through to a second-round in mid-January.

Usefully, each of the ten short-listed applications will receive £10,000 of free advertising inventory on MySpace before the three winners are announced in March. Sun Startup Essentials UK and Flexiscale will provide free MySpace application hosting for developers who are active participants in the competition.

Here is what’s up for grabs:

• The best sustainably social application will win £10,000 and £100,000 advertising inventory on MySpace

• The most popular application measured by daily use over a three-month period between January and March 2009, will win £2,500 and £10,000 worth of advertising inventory on MySpace

• The best application created by a student will win £2,500 and £10,000 advertising inventory on MySpace

The developer platform is here and the UK Developers MySpace page is here

Chris Thorpe, Developer Platform Evangelist for MySpace UK is here. The judging panel for the MySpace Developer Competition has some great names associated with it:

Patrick Chanezon (Google)
Kristian Sergestrale (Playfish)
Matt Jones (Dopplr)
Andy Budd (Clearleft)
Sam Michel (Chinwag)
Simon Grice (Mashup Event)
Richard Moross (
Michael Smith (Mind Candy)
Saul Klein (The Accelerator Group)
Stewart Townsend (Sun)
Eddie Smith (Social Media)
Tom Reynolds (blogger and ambulance driver)
Devin Hunt (Fuzzwich)
Mitch McAlister (MySpace UK)

Originally I said yes to being on the panel as well, but on reflection I’m formally standing down from that as I’d rather be independent of this whole thing than be seen to be favouring one platform (MySpace) over another, like Facebook, or whatever.

Good luck everyone. Go build great apps.