MySpace, the most-popular social networking Web site, joined a software partnership headed by Google Inc. (GOOG:US) that lets developers create applications for shared use across multiple sites.
The agreement leaves Facebook as the largest social-networking site outside the Google OpenSocial network, which includes LinkedIn Corp. and Friendster Inc. The partnership makes it possible for developers to add a game or feature on several sites, rather than customizing for each one.
The participation of News Corp.'s MySpace deepens a rivalry with closely held Facebook, which lets developers create games and other applications for its users' pages. By making a single program for more than one site, developers can save time and money, and there may be less reason to rely on a single service.
MySpace Chief Executive Officer Chris DeWolfe said last month that the site will open itself to outside developers to attract users and advertisers. The company announced it was joining Google's network in a statement today. Bebo, the U.K.'s No. 1 social-networking site, also said today that it will join OpenSocial, according to Bebo's statement.
The agreement between Google and MySpace extends a partnership that began in August 2006, when Google agreed to be the exclusive provider of search and keyword advertising for News Corp. (NWSA:US)'s Web properties. It also comes a week after Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook for $240 million, beating out a bid from Google.
Google wants both MySpace and Facebook to be part of OpenSocial, Joe Kraus, director of product management at Google, said in an interview this week. Facebook has yet to be briefed on the program, spokeswoman Brandee Barker said today in an e-mail.
``When we have had a chance to understand the technology, then Facebook will evaluate participation,'' Barker said.
Web users have flocked to social-networking sites to find old friends, socialize with colleagues, listen to music and play games. Spending by advertisers on the sites may almost triple to $3.63 billion globally by 2011, according to EMarketer Inc. Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, and MySpace will account for three-quarters of the market's $900 million in ad revenue this year, the New York-based research firm said.
MySpace attracted 105.7 million users worldwide in August, compared with 69.3 million for Facebook, according to Reston, Virginia-based researcher ComScore Inc.
News Corp. Class A shares (2FA:US), little changed this year, fell 33 cents to $21.34 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Google shares fell $3.79 to $703.21 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
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