MySpace Oh Oh
Apparently 8% of upstream traffic to Google is being driven by MySpace. Holy. Now given Myspace has a search box powered by Yahoo! and MySpace users are still going to Google to conduct search, there's still some work to do. But imagine if MySpace actually built a rich search experience for users (or integrated search into some value add on MySpace), the social networking site would hold significant influence over their users' web search. 8% is no joke to Google or to any search provider.
All this speaks to the power of being the central hub for Internet usage. Much like the browser was in the late 90's, AOL and MyYahoo at the start of the millenium and the search engine homepage since then, users gravitate to a central launching point for the use of the Internet. Where the browsers and Yahoo went wrong was users will take the path of least resistance (like that crazy electron from high school physics) to get to where they want to go. Google offered greater relevancy and users voted with their feet. What MySpace brings is another take on what's revelant to the user (especially the 18-26 age group). Your personal page, your personal network, and path for increasing your network apparently is driving more appeal than mere search results (given the comparable growth between MySpace and Google).
Being the central launching point for Internet usage brings massive leverage. Just ask anyone who signed deals with AOL in 1999 (heck AOL still commands some of that power given the Google deal). MySpace and other social networking sites have some work to do to get there. My best guess is they should pursue the personal web initiatives I've referred to in the past. But if they get there, watch out below...