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MySpace faces Facebook challenge July 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet, Internet Software.

Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace is facing intense competition from Bebo and Facebook, according to latest figures on social networking in the UK.

MySpace, which was acquired by Murdoch’s News Corp in July 2005 for $580m, has long been the market leader for young people looking to talk to friends online. And with 6.5 million unique visitors in May, MySpace still remains the most popular social networking site in the UK.

In May, however, MySpace saw its first monthly drop in traffic since June 2006 and only the second drop since November 2005, research firm Nielsen/NetRatings said. Over the last six months, Facebook’s UK audience has grown at 19 times the rate of MySpace’s – 523 per cent compared to just 28 per cent. Bebo has grown by nearly 50 per cent per cent during the same period of time.

Facebook, once largely used by only American colleges, had 3.2 million unique users in May, while Bebo attracted around 4 million visitors. Nielsen’s figures also reveal that Facebook has become more popular in the UK than in the US. Ten per cent of British web users visited Facebook in May, compared to 9 per cent of the US online population.

MySpace is far more dominant in the US than the UK, having four times the visitors of Facebook stateside (56.6 million versus 14.2 million), Nielsen said. Bebo’s success is very much UK-based, according to Nielsen’s research. The site is visited by 12 per cent of online Britons, compared to just 1 per cent of US internet users.

Alex Burmaster of Nielsen/NetRatings said: “MySpace is, by far, still the most popular social network. “However, if last month’s growth rates were to remain consistent, both Bebo and Facebook would catch MySpace in September this year.”

The stats also reveal that MySpace is proving much less entertaining for its users than both Bebo and Facebook. MySpace users spent an average of 96 minutes on the site in May, compared with 152 minutes for Bebo and 143 minutes for Facebook.

“It’s extraordinary to think that Facebook is now a relatively bigger phenomenon in the UK than in the US where it started out life in Harvard back in 2004,” added Burmaster. “Bearing in mind that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg turned down a $750m buyout offer, supposedly holding out for $2bn, well before it made a significant footprint in the UK, one wonders what price he’d put on it now.”

Globally, MySpace is comfortably the most popular social network site, with an audience of 74.7 million. Facebook is second on 18.2 million users and Bebo is ranked third, with an estimated 5.8 million.

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