At ISPCon last month, I used Myspace as one of my examples for my Sticky Services presentation [Powerpoint]. There's a widely held perception that sites like Myspace are totally sticky services that attract and keep users based on having a critical mass of users. As Mike Arrington points out this morning, Myspace is growing like a weed -
MySpace has 75 million users (see somewhat dated comparison stats here), is growing by a massive 240,000 new users per day, and is generating nearly 30 billion monthly page views (that’s 10,593 page views per second).

– from TechCrunch

If this isn't critical mass, then I don't know what is. To get a better idea how successful Myspace is versus its competitors, check out this graph from Google Trends:


There is no question that Myspace is kicking ass. But how much ass? Google Trends only gives you relative data, so I like to throw in a control sample that provides a baseline to measure against. Picking a control sample is easy – just use a term that you know everybody is searching for;


In this case I picked “Porn” as my control. And yup, you read the graph right, Myspace is bigger than Porn according to Google Trends.

So, we’ve established that Myspace is big, but what does this mean? Personally, I think we’re seeing the beginning of the end of Myspace. Too many people know that its huge. This will be the end of Myspace as a popular destination.

Huh? Doesn’t the fact that it has critical mass and everyone is talking about it mean that its just going to keep getting bigger? Nope, in fact, I predict that exactly the opposite is going to happen.

Disclaimer: I take no credit for this bright idea. It came up during a conversation with Ken Schafer while I was preparing my slide deck for ISPCon.

NightclubMyspace is exactly like a nightclub. What’s the best way to make your nightclub popular? Make it appeal to the CoolHunters, the InCrowd, the EarlyAdopters and the BeautifulPeople. Make it a place where everyone wants to be seen because everyone worth seeing is there.

Velvet ropeThe problem with this approach is that sooner or later, the CoolHunters and BeautifulPeople can’t stand the scene anymore. In fact, they quickly grow to loathe it. Why? Because the last thing that these folks want is to be scene with NormalPeople and the only way that the night club can grow its audience is to let more and more people in as it tries to keep the place full night after night. The more NormalPeople that show up, the less the CoolHunters show up. And, sooner or later, the NormalPeople look around and realize that there’s no one in the room except NormalPeople and they realize that this is the last place on earth they want to be seen. Who, after all, wants to hang out with NormalPeople.

This is the problem that lies ahead for Myspace. The simple fact that geeks like me and Michael Arrington are writing about Myspace is painful for the vast majority of CoolHunters that originally popularized it. In fact, I’ll bet that today’s buzz on Myspace makes a couple of thousand BeautifulPeople uncomfortable enough to dump Myspace and go find a new, cooler (lesser known) scene that will add to their coolness (and get them as far away as possible from my OldPersonGeekStink).

In fact, I predict that sometime during the next 24 months, we’re going to see a graph that very closely resembles this one;


It won’t be Friendster, it won’t be anyone that I’ve heard of (and won’t hear of for a long time after Google quietly notices the trend) but it will happen. Enough of the CoolKids are going to leave Myspace for SomethingNew, and SomethingNew is going to take over the #1 spot in this space.