Saturday, October 31, 2009

My latest take on Twitter

A while ago a friend asked me to explain Twitter to him. I've been giving it some thought since, today I posted my most current thoughts in response to a blog post telling us that Robert Scoble's "Replacing Google Reader with Twitter is Nuts". I wrote (the following has been modified slightly from the original) ...
Twitter is a publisher and subscriber. As a publisher it broadcasts short SMS -compliant strings to any interested subscriber. It is a uniquely good fit to pre-2008 mobile phones technology.
I think of Twitter as a curious pub/sub (feed) technology that emerged because of the limitations of early 21st century mobile phones, the bizarre pricing of American SMS and MMS messaging, email spam, and the asymmetry of early PubSub technology (strong sub as in Google Reader, weak pub as in amazingly feeble blog authoring tools with one now ailing exception).

Most of those curious technological limitations are going away. Between technology change and Facebook, Twitter is very vulnerable to displacement (if Google ever got their status pub/chat/reader/Latitude/Chat strategies aligned the squeeze would double).

I can imagine Twitter changing to be more like an open version of Facebook (esp. if Google bought them), but I can't see it staying relevant in its current form.

Between Google Reader (esp. with the "Note in Reader" feature) and Facebook I've no personal use case for Twitter. There are few times I consider it, but either Reader or Facebook could seize that ground (esp. wrt Location Services, though that's bound up for me with Apple's voracious greed)...
Other than following a few Twitter feeds through Google Reader, I have no current use for Twitter.

Update 11/7/09: Incidentally, the SMS bit isn't free -- at least in the US. Much of the value proposition of Twitter is the SMS/almost-IM fusion -- with Twitter paying the bill. That particular value goes away when SMS gets cheaper or becomes irrelevant.

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