The Open Governance Index describes the control points used in an open source project across 4 dimensions: access, development, derivatives and community. The success of Google’s relatively closed Android mobile platform aside, research suggests that platforms that are the most open will be most successful in the long term.
Using the Open Governance Index (OGI) to measure the openness of The MySpace platform is revealing. The first dimension of the OGI governance criteria is (software development) access to the platform (code). The MySpace management team provided NO access to its platform. Indeed, MySpace engineers were tasked with creating each and every feature. Unlike subsequent social media platforms (e.g., Facebook), MySpace did not offer a software development kit (SDK) or open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Thus, MySpace was forced to innovate on its own. Therefore, MySpace scores a zero on this dimension. Or, in other words it’s a completely closed platform.
The second OGI dimension is termed development (of software developer contributions) to the platform. Since MySpace didn’t provide developer-level access to the platform, this dimension also scores a zero.
The third OGI dimension is defined as derivatives which refers to the use of trademarks used to control how and where the platform is used via enforcing a compliance process prior to distribution. Like the previous 2 dimensions, this dimension is also not relevant as MySpace disallowed any third-party distribution of its platform related components.
The fourth and final OGI dimension is community which refers to the structure and any associated tiered decision-making rights related to membership status. This dimension is also zero as MySpace management made each and every decision.
The initial success and rapid rise of MySpace was more serendipitous than by strategic design. According to the article, “The Rise and Inglorious Fall of Myspace,” one of the site's first breakthroughs, for example, came by accident. Shortly after launching in August 2003, Myspace developers realized they had accidentally permitted users to insert Web markup code, allowing them to play around with the background colors and personalize their pages, leading to the site's kaleidoscopic, techno-junkyard aesthetic, which became its trademark. Ironically, had MySpace offered its users and developers continued “access” to the platform, perhaps the platform would have survived. But, unfortunately erred too much on the side of a closed platform as it was under the pressure of monetizing as quick as possible. And, of course network effects can work in reverse as MySpace experienced as it started losing users at the rate of 1 million per month after a range of seedy content and suspect members permeated the platform.
@RayBordogna opines on "strategy" concepts.