MySpace has opened the submission period for its Developer Challenge, a contest in which the company will award $50,000 (£30,000) in prizes for new applications and for innovative uses of the social networking site's application programming interfaces.

External developers have until February 24 to enter the contest, which includes a $10,000 (£6,000) award in each of five categories: best new MySpace application and the most innovative uses of the realtime stream API, open search API, photo upload API and mobile API.

The panel of judges will include MySpace COO Mike Jones and Google Engineering Director David Glazer, MySpace announced. The winners will be announced at the Game Developers Conference in March.

To be eligible, contestants must be legal residents of the US, Canada (excluding Quebec), UK or Australia and be at least 18 years of age. Developers can participate as individuals or as part of a team of no more than three members.

Judges will evaluate applications and use of APIs according to four general criteria: originality, technical achievement, entertainment value and innovation.

MySpace also will host a free event called MySpace devJam on January 14 at its San Francisco office to help developers get started on their applications for the contest, a company spokeswoman said via email.

The developer contest comes on the heels of MySpace's decision about a month ago to open its users' public activity stream data to external developers via a new set of APIs.

MySpace wants developers to use these status updates and action notifications in external applications and in websites. MySpace has about 110 million members worldwide. They generate about 46 million status updates and action notifications every day.

Once the most popular social networking site in the world, MySpace lost that position to Facebook, but a new management team is trying to refocus MySpace so it can recover lost territory.