At least on the surface MySpace Mail appears to be a solid product with some advantages over traditional e-mail clients. Still, it takes a lot for anybody to switch.
MySpace unveiled its new messaging system late on Thursday night--which now lets members use the formerly internal service to e-mail others from an @myspace.com account--and the reactions have been pretty positive. Since it's slowing rolling out in beta over the next few weeks, hands-on reviews are hard to come by, but the design looks pretty good and people seem to agree that it may help reverse some of the site's well-publicized traffic stagnation.
Here are the numbers: MySpace says that nearly a fifth of its traffic is related to the messaging platform, and it has 130 million users worldwide. MySpace Mail can therefore enter the market as the fourth largest e-mail provider in the world and the second biggest in the U.S. It also gives the News Corp.-owned social network a leg up on Facebook, which has eclipsed it in traffic but still has a pretty rudimentary messaging system. (That's apparently going to change, from what everyone's been saying.)
MySpace Mail, in tune with its media-savvy young audience, has made it easier than other e-mail clients to attach music, video, and picture files. Additionally, if you're contacting another MySpace member, an activity feed of that member's recent MySpace goings-on will appear in the right sidebar. Those are features that I wouldn't be surprised to see other e-mail clients start integrating in the future.
But will MySpace Mail shake up the industry? I don't think so.
The question for MySpace is uptake. The majority of its users likely already have other e-mail addresses that they already use, and switching over may be a complicated matter: the hassle of changing address books, not to mention updating e-mail list and account subscriptions, means that people just don't change their addresses very often. And it doesn't have the invite-only allure or the power of a name like Google behind it that Gmail had when it launched in 2004.
Security's also an issue, given how well-publicized MySpace spam and worms have been over the years. The company says it is using "leading anti-spam technology and virus scanning" in the overhauled messaging client.