MySpace is to open up its site to third-party application developers. It will allow anyone to write small web applications which MySpace users can then add to their profile pages. Announced in October last year, MySpace now says it will launch the new open platform in March.

The kind of applications we’re likely to see include games, and tools that will allow people to check their email without leaving their MySpace account. However, there are also likely to be just as many pointless apps that service only to irritate people.

Facebook opened itself up to third-party apps back in May 2007, and it fundamentally changed the way people used the site. In fact many people say Facebook is now a much worse place than it was a year ago.

It’s infested with viral apps which bombard Facebook members with messages and invites until they add the app to their pages.

So with this in mind, is MySpace, which already has millions of cluttered profiles, about to get worse too?

Apps on MySpace: good or bad?

Well, it’s unlikely that these apps will change MySpace as much as they did Facebook. MySpace users are already able to personalise their pages by copying and pasting HTML into the source code of their pages.

These new apps will make this kind of thing a lot easier to do, and might even serve to tidy things up a little. At the moment, the large number of MySpace profiles are unsightly monstrosities with flashing pink backgrounds, sparkly decorations, illegible fonts and randomly placed images.

Viewing the average MySpace profile is like going back in time and looking at an IE4 web page in 1996. So application-based profile personalisations are actually likely to help make MySpace profiles nicer to look at.

But if Facebook is anything to go by, those annoying viral zombie-type apps will not be far behind. Many Facebook users say they’ve closed their profiles as a result of these additions. So it’s unclear whether the MySpace community will like or dislike the addition of third-party apps.

But one thing’s for sure, those MySpace boffins would do well to at least try and regulate the kind of apps that people are allowed to write.