MySpace mobile version set to launch

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LOS ANGELES -- The social networking Web site MySpace is launching a free, advertising-supported cell phone version Monday as part of a wider bid by parent News Corp. to attract advertising for mobile Web sites.

Fox Interactive Media, which oversees News Corp.'s Internet properties, said it also plans to roll out versions of FoxSports.com, the gaming site IGN, AskMen and its local TV affiliates in the coming months that will work on cell phones that can access the Internet.

The company said it also plans to offer a mobile version of its Photobucket picture sharing site in coming months.

The company already offers premium, subscription-based versions of MySpace through AT&T Inc. and Helio wireless services. Those versions include special features integrated into specific handsets, such as uploading cell phone photos directly to a user's profile page.

The new version set to launch Monday will work on all U.S. carriers and will allow users to send and receive messages and friend requests, comment on pictures, post bulletins, update blogs, and find and search for friends.

The company said advertisers have become more interested as the quality of the mobile Web experience has improved.

"Accessing the Internet from your mobile phone will soon be as common as text messaging and voice calling," said John Smelzer, senior vice president of mobile at Fox Interactive.

Initially, advertising will taker the form of sponsorships and banner ads that can be clicked on.

Eventually, Fox Interactive will seek to sell more targeted advertising, using registration data from cell phone carriers. The company also hopes to send local ads based on a user's location using GPS data sent by the phones.

"Over time, the most targeted ads will be on mobile," Smelzer said.

MySpace recently announced plans to sell targeted ads using personal information culled from each user's profile and blogs.

The new mobile sites will be tailored to the small screen on most handsets, Smelzer said.

FoxSports, for instance, will allow users to check scores and perform other core tasks, but will not have the video and photo offerings of the subscription version.

Smart phones with larger screens can already access full versions of Fox's Web sites.
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