Napster and MySpace: Why Nostalgia is Bad For Business

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The early 2000's, where the dot-com bubble had already burst and Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.

Everyone was back down to earth from the soaring tech stock prices, but the excitement within the possibilities of the internet were still enormous.

We don't have to talk much about the history of MySpace or Napster, we all know the tales. What seems to be more interesting than the rise and fall of a tech platform is the attempted comebacks.

With so much time, energy, and money being invested in websites and apps, it's easy to think that the parties involved would not want it to fade into purgatory (except of course).

MySpace made big news in 2013 when Justin Timberlake got involved in a new effort to re-launch the platform (who hasn't tweeted about it since October 2013). Plenty of skeptics weighed in, but having a giant star like Timberlake on board could have been exactly what MySpace needed to start working again. In addition, MySpace switched direction to focus solely on music (which was a popular part of the website previously).

However, more than a year later, the buzz has died down and the site is just puttering along. It's traffic has slowly decreased and in a crowded market like music, other platforms like SoundCloud are dominating.

Napster is a rather different tale, having gone through a giant battle over the legality of the service. And whereas many see Napster as a serious missed opportunity, the site did try to re-brand itself as a paid service, but again ran into legal trouble. The entity was purchased by Best Buy in 2008 and it was then acquired by Rhapsody.

That final deal killed the Napster brand, but until that time in 2011, the big push was to try to re-boot the fallen service with so much name clout. However, the re-branded entity Rhapsody is doing quite well.

So what's to be learned from all this? In a crowded tech world, everyone wants the next best thing and there is very little room for nostalgic products that were big in peoples past. I mean, you don't see people rushing to go back to download AOL or WinAmp.

The constant tech push forward is so prolific that the nostalgic brands that have fallen out of usefulness are often seen as nothing more than a joke or the next meme.

But truthfully, any nostalgic brand that is brought back is almost never better than the original. Look at most sequels or the 'Boy Meets World' revamp.

The same can be said with tech, let them die or roll them into a new brand.