So, according to PaidContent, MySpace is about to upgrade its messaging service to full-out Web mail: so that instead of only being able to communicate with other MySpace members, users will have an @myspace.com e-mail address. This will start rolling out on Thursday, apparently, with the new service available to all MySpace members by the end of the year.
This seems a little odd at first, considering we recently heard that the troubled MySpace was more or less giving up on trying to compete with Facebook, and was attempting to rebrand as an "entertainment portal." Launching a new tech-related product doesn't seem to fit into that, unless you consider that (according to PaidContent) this has been in development since before the management shakeup that saw Owen Van Natta replacing Chris DeWolfe as MySpace CEO, and brought in former AOL exec Jon Miller as the head of parent company News Corp.'s digital operations.
But here's a thought: I wonder how much the focus of "MySpace Mail" will be geared toward bands and artists who want a better way to manage and communicate with their fan bases. Enhanced messaging could make it possible for music acts, who were what made MySpace popular in the first place and are undoubtedly a big part of its new entertainment-centric strategy, to use MySpace to communicate with fans who might not be using MySpace.
For ordinary users, meanwhile, e-mail addresses could help pull the MySpace brand off its domain and give it more reach--much like the MySpace ID universal log-in product, which hasn't really rolled out yet (and which may have had large-scale success quashed by the ubiquity of Facebook Connect). And while revamping its messaging system might not bring in many new users for MySpace, it could help stall potential attrition.
MySpace has allowed its users to reserve "vanity URLs" for their profiles for years now--something that Facebook only started doing this summer.