Social Nets – The Almighty MySpace Has Competition

WSJ has a review of social nets, looking at new sites that might present any significant competition to MySpace and Facebook.
Piczo is rapidly building a young female usership and is already the most popular social networking site in Canada. There’s no search feature, which this piece says insulate’s users from uninvited visitors and relies more on links between friends. The site had 10.2 million uniques in August – Facebook had 15.5 million and raised $7 million VC in the past 12 months from Sierra and Catamount. Piczo founder Jim Conning plans to increase revenue through selling music, ringtones and Piczo-branded merchandise.
Sconex, Hi5 and XuQa.com, which is built around gaming against friends online, also get a mention and Friendster is credited as the first social net in 2002, though it was quickly overtaken by rivals. Targeting younger users has its risks because allegiances can shift quickly with different trends. Encouraging users to have more than one account is one solution to that.
Ben Bajarin, analyst, Creative Strategies: “People used to pop up and say ‘we’re a better MySpace’. Now, all those sites have started to say ‘Well, we can’t displace MySpace — but we’re complementary to MySpace.”
Other social net news:
New student social net launches: Univillage has clocked 100,000 users in its first five weeks and aims to have 90 percent of new university students signed up by November. The site also offered a .ac.uk email address, the UK equivalent of .edu, as an incentive to new users and texted 5,000 students details of a secret gig as part of its UK ad campaign.
Wippit launches music tool for social nets: Music downloads service Wippit is partnering with Sonific to offer social net users a music download tool. Anyone with a customisable blog or MySpace, Bebo and Faceparty page will be able to stream songs from the Wippit store for free using Sonific’s ‘songspot‘ tool – the user adds a piece of code to the sidebar. Wippit CEO Paul Myers said it wanted to be the first “to capitalise on this great opportunity of free, user-supported music advertising.”
Related: MySpace Video Streams Outstrip YouTube; Or So They Say
Analyst: MySpace Will Be Worth $15 Billion In Next Few Years
Online Photo/Community Site Piczo Gets $4 Million Second Round

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.