Upon viewing the social network timeline presented in Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship by Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, the social network “Skyblog” caught my eye. I did a Google search of its history and ran across a blog posting by Amit Chowdhry in 2006. It was entitled “Skyblog Bigger Than MySpace in France, Plans Further Europe and U.S. Expansion.” The Boyd and Ellison timeline has Skyblog launching at the end of 2002. The Chowdhry blog provides a view of its development as of the end of 2006, two years later. At that time it had over 2.85 billion page views per month. Skyblog was operated by Paris-based Orbus and was launched by a French rap radio station, Skyrock. Chowdhry sees similarities between the beginnings of MySpace, which had its start with offline clubs, bands, and party promoters, and Skyblog’s promotion by the Skyrock radio station. Skyrock launched Skyblog to provide free blogging services that allowed users to share reviews on music and network with each other. At the time of Chowdhry’s 2006 post, the Skyblog counter had 6,241,674 active accounts, 318,588,540 published articles, and 600,313,300 comments on the blog posts. It was ranked #5 in France after Google, Adobe, Free.fr, and Symantec.fr.
When looking at its market share among rival social networks in Europe, MySpace claimed 7% of Europe while Skyblog claimed 4.2%. Skyblog added free e-mail services, IM software, and mobile download services with the goal of keeping users within the site to spend more time, see more ads. It tried to compete with MySpace by letting its users do more. Skyblog attracted corporate sponsorships such as McDonalds, Nike, Coca-Cola and Neutrogena and embedded their logos in the homepage. Since these are U.S. based companies approaching a foreign social network, the assumption was that the advertising opportunities were expected to grow from $445 million to $1.1 billion in 2007. Skyblog was soon to launch websites in English, German, and Spanish in its plan to expand throughout Europe and USA.
Where is Skyblog today? Here: http://www.skyrock.com/blog/. Skyblog is now called Skyrock, the original radio station name, and you can choose English, Spanish, French, French Canadian, English Canadian or International. When I checked the counter on Oct. 11, 2009, all versions of Skyrock read 27,657,343 Blogs | 18,150,255 Profiles | 7,578 Chatters online. It appears to remain popular with music enthusiasts and has grown beyond the French base, more than quadrupling its 2006 numbers. Has it beat its competitor MySpace? I don’t think so. Skyrock no longer has USA corporate sponsor logos on its home page. The prominent advertiser is for weight loss. MySpace France, on the other hand has a place devoted to music. At the top of that page is a big ad for Chevy Trucks. Later the ad was for Best Western. On the right hand side of the page was an ad for the Michael Jackson movie, “This is It” opening soon. (All the ads were in English by the way.) The big advertising dollars tell more than a counter that is not on MySpace France—this is a very popular social network. A Google search for MySpace Europe brings up 29,000 hits whereas a Google search for Skyrock Europe brings up 1,970. MySpace was too popular for Skyblog, now Skyrock, to beat. Skyblog despite its impressive expansion beyond France’s borders remains a niche social network for blogging about music. It’s interesting that the name has gone from Skyblog to Skyrock, the original radio station name. Since MySpace has an area for Music, but much, much more, it has more to offer more people, hence it phenomenal success.
I would not consider creating an account with Skyrock and using it even though I can now do this in English. My reason would be that I have no clue what its bloggers and chatters are talking about. I’m not a listener of their music and therefore have nothing to communicate with them. People in my online and offline social networks wouldn’t be interested in joining either. My personal experiences with social network sites have been related to sharing photos and family news and sharing educational ideas. If I were to join a new social network at this point, it would have to be one that accommodated those interests, which Skyblog does not. It failed to move beyond its original music niche so did not expand to be as popular a social network as Facebook or MySpace.
Amit, Chowdhry. "Skyblog Bigger Than MySpace in France, Plans Further Europe and U.S. Expansion." P2 PULSE 2. 03 Dec 2006. Amit Chowdhry Blog, Web. 11 Oct 2009.