It's cool, but so what?
Monday, October 27, 2008
Twitter is cool, but what's the point
? I mean, what is the point to keep paying the bill on its servers if the company has no real business model. I'm not the only one to wonder this, as there have been countless people writing about the same thing
. The magical future model seems to be, as usual, advertising or subscription fees. Are any of these feasible money makers for the company?
I'm skeptical on the success of either of these alternatives. On the one hand, we go to great lengths to avoid seeing advertising on web pages. So how would you feel if your twitter stream is full of contextual ads a la google? I know I wouldn't like it. On the other hand, would anyone pay for such a simple service? Twitter is a free service, with a very low barrier of entry, i.e., it's easy to create. I agree that the infrastructure is expensive, but only because of the volume: the technology to make this thing tick is not out of the reach of most of us.
The unknown variable in this reality equation, however, is if twitter has been able to create enough incumbency amongst its user. We as a crowd are fickle, and we move from trendy thing to trendy thing. Is twitter the next new new thing? It has been for a while, and seems to be more now. "A lot more people -- and businesses -- are finding new ways to tweet", writes
Jessica E. Vascellaro, from the Wall Street Journal, in her catchy tag line of her article Twitter Goes Mainstream
. (I won't go into the details of what mainstream means here, as I don't think the app has gone mainstream: how many of you use twitter?)
The success of twitter rests of the network effect (the network has more value depending on how many users there are): if companies are convinced that this short-message distribution system is worth a license, then it will become the standard; however, if there are no users using twitter, why would any sane CEO agree to pay for the service? We've seen this before, haven't we?
Regardless of corporate acceptance, twitter has another option to survive its success. It's the acquisition route, which is more realistic. Google or Yahoo are sure looking at it (I'm speculating, I don't know if they are). Facebook, on the other hand, is unlikely to look at it, as they should be able to create their own twitter-like platform in no time. I'm actually surprised it's not out there yet.
In the mean time, twitt away. I just recently started using it, so I'm not too sure of what it is or its use; and yes, I have heard all the descriptions that people want to give it. I agree, it's cool...but so what?
Google has Jaiku.
There you go...Google doesn't need twitter.