Is Friendster Dead?

Posted June 20th, 2006 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Social Media

Rival Myspace is catching up with its attractive features.

It was once so addictive users claimed they were getting fired from their jobs because of it.

Lately, however, social networking website Friendster seems to have lost its edge.

Competitor Myspace is now making headway in the popularity stakes.

Friendster, launched in March 2003, made news for giving the dating website format a twist. Instead of ploughing blindly through profiles of date-able strangers, one could get connected to friends and friends-of-friends. You have to be 16 and above to sign up on Friendster.

Every user creates an online identity by filling out a questionnaire profile and uploading a picture. They then browse existing users and add them as friends.

Owing to this non-threatening vibe, the community grew to more than 20 million users. Even stars like Pamela Anderson got their own Friendster profile.

But the website was plagued by slow server response time in its early stages. Many users found it hard to log on to their pages.

Among similar web services which have popped up are Friendscene and Profileheaven.

Myspace, founded in July 2003, is one of the strongest contenders. It has grown to more than 16 million monthly users.

The concept of Myspace is similar to Friendster’s, with user profiles, photo-sharing and a growing gallery of friends. Users can customize their profiles and stream music from their profile pages.

Popular bands like The Black Eyed Peas post tracks on their Myspace home page for others to listen to for free.

In July this year, Rupert Murdoch News Corporation bought Internet company Intermix Media, which owns Myspace, for US$580 million.

In Singapore, Myspace is steadily gaining fans like marketing executive Joanne Tan, 25. She now logs on to check her page 3 times a week. She still visits her Friendster page, but only sporadically.

She says, “Myspace is very personal and interactive.”

One feature she likes is the existence og ‘Tom’, a real-life Californian, on the site who is there to help confused users.

She says, “I saw on his profile that one of his heroes is Lee Kuan Yew, so I messaged him out of cynicism. And he replied. Since then, we’ve chatted on Myspace’s instant messenger, and he would recommend good movies.”

But don’t sound the death knell for Friendster yet. Oil analyst Luke Panchymuthu, 31, says he still visits the site, especially when he gets automated e-mail reminders about his Friendster contacts’ birthdays.

He adds, “It sure looks like there are loads of people who use it.”

Friendster vs. Myspace

What They Are: Both are social networking websites originating from the US that allow you to meet friends-of-friends and so no.

Friendster launched in March 2003 by its chairman Jonathan Abrams, while Myspace was founded in July that year by its Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe and president Tom Anderson.

Design: Friendster has a clearer interface with a grey-and-white page. Myspace’s blue-and-white design looks generic and feels cluttered.

Reach: Friendster has more than 20 million members while Myspace has more than 16 million users.

Buzz: Since the initial frenzy, Friendster has quietened down. Some members have logged on to their pages since 2003.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, Myspace drew 12 million visitors in June this year, ranking 6th among users in terms of page views, behind Yahoo!, eBay, MSN, Google and AOL.

Features: Myspace has games and allows you to download musice posted on a band’s personal page. Friendster recently added a games section. Unlike Friendster, Myspace allows you to pick your own URL for your personal page.

Help: Friendster has a team of support staff to help answer questions. Myspace features ‘Tom’, a 29-year-old from California, who is a kind of multi-purpose friend.

‘Tom’ who has 27,744,387 friends on his Myspace page, answers messages from confused users 24/7.

News article by Clara Chow. Extracted from The Straits Times.