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This Thursday, MySpace plans to roll out its own webmail, paidContent has learned from sources familiar with the plans. The News Corp (NYSE: NWS). social network, like competitor Facebook, allows messaging — a much-used service — but this will give them their own addresses “@myspace.com” in what was described to me as a “logical extension of that relationship.”
The launch will be soft and low key, with a slow build toward a full roll out well before the end of the year. Some members already have access as part of the company’s testing and it is being adjusted with their feedback as part of an iterative process that will be ongoing. MySpace needs to be careful; if they turn on the hose too fast, they could wind up with a huge problem should something go awry. MySpace declined comment.
MySpace reports 130 million members globally, 70 million in the U.S. It’s unclear how the e-mail will roll out and whether it will be available outside the U.S. but if MySpace is successful in spreading the service across its members, it quickly could become one of the top e-mail providers.
As much as some people like to make fun of MySpace, it will give those who identify with it — especially the younger demos — a chance to use that cachet much as they use their vanity URLs. (MySpace had vanity URLs before Facebook was born.) In addition to providing an address some members may identify with more than something like Hotmail or an ISP, it’s not hard to see a “MySpace.com” e-mail address being of interest to musicians and others in entertainment.
The mail client project was already in the works months before Jon Miller came in this spring to head digital efforts for News Corp and before he shook up the MySpace’s management by swapping out Chris DeWolfe for Owen Van Natta. The new team, with Jason Hirschhorn heading product development, kept webmail as a goal and plans a soft launch of the product Thursday. I was told the project is being run out of Seattle by what one person called “a bunch of ex-Hotmail guys.” (Rajit Marwah, the director of product management, joined MySpace in 2008 from *Microsoft*, where he was involved with Messenger and Hotmail.)