Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Twitter and wrong business decisions

You've must have been on a trip to Mars if you haven't heard about the ordeal of Twitter, saying they close down their services to give it's customers (???) a consistent user experience. In short, they don't want external developers to further develop applications on their API.

This blog article is not about bashing some more on decisions made by Twitter's management and VC's, but to open up a discussion to see if there's no better value to be found for the company to make money without killing innovation. I'd like to know your points of view on this discussion, maybe not to save Twitter, but the next best thing that comes along feeling pressure of VC's wanting to see money for their hard invested money.

If I was a VC or a major stockholder of Twitter company, I'd think twice on killing competitive client developers! [Editorial: I'm no VC nor stockholder, but I do run a business]

First of all you don't have the world geniuses working at Twitter, so you might kill innovation that could bring your service on the next level. I love how CoTweet allows teams to share one twitter resource and delegate tasks to each other. This is just one of the many innovations that sprung out of nowhere just because of the existence of Twitter.

Adds, good to have them but the revenue you earn on adds is still peanuts compared to other solutions, although in the case of Twitter those are a lot of peanuts. Don't use a stupid bar that annoys people (because it's intrusive and unwanted). Inject an add in between every five or ten tweets, like commercials do on TV or in the newspaper. Twitter is the source, so it's easy to implement it. You can even have trending, profiled or geolocated ads send to individual users as Twitter has all that data. Bang! There's some real money to be found.

The added value for Twitter can also be found in it's eco-system, as "to tweet" is generally recognized as a verb. Take a look at GitHub's business model! They've a free platform to share code with the world, but charge for private use. I am sure there's a lot of potential right there, as more and more people are so familiar with sending out a tweet, it can co-exists within companies as their own private twitter flow. Even more, for enterprizes like newsmedia it can also be a business model to have a "sticky" tweet to give them extra attention when major events occur (like we see now in Japan). Even give international aid services a "place" to show where people can contribute, but I suggest to make that a free service.

One thing I do want to say to the folks over at Twitter is this: you have a huge user base and you might keep it for a very long time. But don't forget, it can all be over when someone comes up with the next best thing. You've provided a service that's been used to provide event coverage as it happened, crumbled governments in North Africa, witnessed thousands of reunions of people being at the same spot and so much more. Developers are building new tools on top of that for giving people an added experience on top of what you've originally set up. Closing the doors now on those developers is not just acting as a jerk, but is also a motivation for developers to come up with the next best thing a whole lot quicker.

Let's talk and see how you can become again the hero you used to be.
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