Twitter: grabbing defeat from the jaws of success

Amazing, Twitter has been half down all weekend long. Dave Winer and others have been writing about it. The problems have been covered on TechMeme and other places where one looks for interesting tech news.

But, don’t miss what’s really going on: Twitter is handing FriendFeed a gift. A major one at that.

FriendFeed has seen HUGE growth over the past month (in the month or so that I’ve been on that service more than 7,000 people have friended my account). That’s faster growth than I’ve seen on Twitter.

Why is FriendFeed seeing this growth? Well, for one, it hasn’t gone down since I’ve joined it. It was built from the start to scale, which after I met the team I understood why: two of the founders of FriendFeed started Gmail and Google Maps, so I’m sure they’ve learned a few tricks about making sure services don’t go down from Google.

I’m also noticing another thing: many of my friends are answering Twitter messages in FriendFeed. That demonstrates to me that their behavior has changed in the past month. If Twitter keeps going down and/or having reliability problems it won’t be long before we change ALL of our behavior and just participate on FriendFeed without worrying about Twitter at all.

Of course, today I gave a talk to Stanford’s Sloan program (bunch of MBA students). Only a handful had heard of Twitter. That’s Twitter’s future growth. What if they hear Twitter sucks and that FriendFeed is where they should participate?

Hmmm.

89 thoughts on “Twitter: grabbing defeat from the jaws of success

  1. I hadn’t noticed Twitter having issues. That is because I am spending less time on Twitter, even though I am posting.

    While FF is popular, I think SocialThing has a better approach. Rather than comment at FF, ST posts to the platform one is responding to. So, if I read one of your tweets at ST and respond, it responds to Twitter. To me that is far more powerful than creating yet another social network.

    ST aggregates all one’s networks and allows him to post directly to those networks from one dashboard. That seems to be the way to go, as far as I am concerned.

  2. I hadn’t noticed Twitter having issues. That is because I am spending less time on Twitter, even though I am posting.

    While FF is popular, I think SocialThing has a better approach. Rather than comment at FF, ST posts to the platform one is responding to. So, if I read one of your tweets at ST and respond, it responds to Twitter. To me that is far more powerful than creating yet another social network.

    ST aggregates all one’s networks and allows him to post directly to those networks from one dashboard. That seems to be the way to go, as far as I am concerned.

  3. Twitter is not the next Friendster.

    The site/service does definitely have its pro’s (established growing user base)and con’s (rails), but I’m fairly certain Twitter falls into the Flickr/del.icio.us category of anti-fail in the long-term.

    I’m just anxious to see what Google plans on doing with Jaiku in the long-term. I believe there’s something up Goog’s sleeve that we’ve yet to hear about in regards to future-Jaiku.

  4. Twitter is not the next Friendster.

    The site/service does definitely have its pro’s (established growing user base)and con’s (rails), but I’m fairly certain Twitter falls into the Flickr/del.icio.us category of anti-fail in the long-term.

    I’m just anxious to see what Google plans on doing with Jaiku in the long-term. I believe there’s something up Goog’s sleeve that we’ve yet to hear about in regards to future-Jaiku.

  5. Bless you, Steve.

    It’s this disconnect between the technorati and normal people that seems to lead to perception gaps. You point out one of them (i.e., people who have heard of Twitter vs. those who could care less).

    I will point out another. I have many non-techie friends who actually LIKE Twitter and use it regularly. Neither myself nor any of my Twitter-loving pals noticed any downtime. Why? Probably because they access Twitter using Gmail. But I use Twhirl, and I didn’t notice any problems either. Perhaps all these people who follow 20,000 other users aren’t getting decent performance because they’ve rendered the service useless.

    I don’t know, but there’s definitely a disconnect between the small army of chicken little bloggers and the larger contingent of silent, happy users.

  6. Bless you, Steve.

    It’s this disconnect between the technorati and normal people that seems to lead to perception gaps. You point out one of them (i.e., people who have heard of Twitter vs. those who could care less).

    I will point out another. I have many non-techie friends who actually LIKE Twitter and use it regularly. Neither myself nor any of my Twitter-loving pals noticed any downtime. Why? Probably because they access Twitter using Gmail. But I use Twhirl, and I didn’t notice any problems either. Perhaps all these people who follow 20,000 other users aren’t getting decent performance because they’ve rendered the service useless.

    I don’t know, but there’s definitely a disconnect between the small army of chicken little bloggers and the larger contingent of silent, happy users.

  7. more proof that web 2.0 nerds and silicon valley builds software for themselves and not to solve business problems. Imagine that! A group of MBA’s at one of the best business schools in the country not having heard of software service that offers no business value and is unstable at best. I rather doubt they’ve heard of Zoho, Thinkfree, or even Basecamp. But ask them about Sametime or Office Communicator or any other platform that can be federated and I’m sure you’d get some hands raised. Or ask them about SAP, peoplesoft or even Salesforce.com

    What your exercise did was to reinforce the fact you and your peers live in a sheltered bubbled world using tools that don’t offer much business or even normal end user value.

  8. more proof that web 2.0 nerds and silicon valley builds software for themselves and not to solve business problems. Imagine that! A group of MBA’s at one of the best business schools in the country not having heard of software service that offers no business value and is unstable at best. I rather doubt they’ve heard of Zoho, Thinkfree, or even Basecamp. But ask them about Sametime or Office Communicator or any other platform that can be federated and I’m sure you’d get some hands raised. Or ask them about SAP, peoplesoft or even Salesforce.com

    What your exercise did was to reinforce the fact you and your peers live in a sheltered bubbled world using tools that don’t offer much business or even normal end user value.

  9. I think it’s great that Twitter is down. Take it from someone who has spent many hours Twittering .. it is a colossal waste of energy. Now, maybe I have time to actually read something instead of living off the fumes of other people who have read something.

  10. I think it’s great that Twitter is down. Take it from someone who has spent many hours Twittering .. it is a colossal waste of energy. Now, maybe I have time to actually read something instead of living off the fumes of other people who have read something.

  11. Great insight. This was my first intro to FriendFeed, but at first glance, it seems much easier/better/more functional than Twitter. Something to bring it all together. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great insight. This was my first intro to FriendFeed, but at first glance, it seems much easier/better/more functional than Twitter. Something to bring it all together. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

  13. @J.J. Toothman: the Sloan MBA students aren’t typical Stanford students. They are mid-career executives who get their MBAs in an intensive 10-month program. Keep the faith on your proposal for Stanford :)

  14. @J.J. Toothman: the Sloan MBA students aren’t typical Stanford students. They are mid-career executives who get their MBAs in an intensive 10-month program. Keep the faith on your proposal for Stanford :)

  15. It’s been fun to watch you take a liking to FriendFeed, Robert. I find Twitter to be a functional tool, but FriendFeed is much more of an interactive, destination site. Twitter is a subset of FriendFeed. And the downtime sure doesn’t help.

  16. It’s been fun to watch you take a liking to FriendFeed, Robert. I find Twitter to be a functional tool, but FriendFeed is much more of an interactive, destination site. Twitter is a subset of FriendFeed. And the downtime sure doesn’t help.

  17. M.twitter.com seems to have survived the uglies. Course… Not many people on. It’s almost ugly enough to abandon ship… Ah, heck, let’s call it. I’m out. I’ve no time for on again off again svcs.

  18. M.twitter.com seems to have survived the uglies. Course… Not many people on. It’s almost ugly enough to abandon ship… Ah, heck, let’s call it. I’m out. I’ve no time for on again off again svcs.

  19. The one thing that FriendFeed lacks is a robust mobile interface. MojiPage is nice, and it now allows you to comment and like items, but I still feel like I can do more in mobile Twitter than in mobile FriendFeed (i.e. MojiPage).

  20. The one thing that FriendFeed lacks is a robust mobile interface. MojiPage is nice, and it now allows you to comment and like items, but I still feel like I can do more in mobile Twitter than in mobile FriendFeed (i.e. MojiPage).

  21. what more interesting, is that I am seeing all the Friends on FF twitters on FF , so I am not missing anythign in terms of chatter and can also reply with swoosh on post to twitter. API seems to working ok.

    its just my redundant fail over strategy for twitter !!

  22. what more interesting, is that I am seeing all the Friends on FF twitters on FF , so I am not missing anythign in terms of chatter and can also reply with swoosh on post to twitter. API seems to working ok.

    its just my redundant fail over strategy for twitter !!

  23. Interesting…only a handful of Stanford MBA’s have heard of Twitter? That’s going to make my Twitter strategy proposal I’m working on for Stanford a bit more challenging.

  24. Interesting…only a handful of Stanford MBA’s have heard of Twitter? That’s going to make my Twitter strategy proposal I’m working on for Stanford a bit more challenging.

  25. As a user, I find FriendFeed’s UI much easier to follow than Twitter. Twitter seems like just another IRC app, with posts and replies sometimes separated by many other responses. It makes tracking a conversation a chore.

    FriendFeed at least groups comments under the original post. I’m not a big fan of that “internet blue” interface, but I’m crossing my fingers that styling isn’t far off.

    I’ve switched entirely from Twitter’s interface to FF’s. Now I just wish my friends who only Twitter would join me.

  26. As a user, I find FriendFeed’s UI much easier to follow than Twitter. Twitter seems like just another IRC app, with posts and replies sometimes separated by many other responses. It makes tracking a conversation a chore.

    FriendFeed at least groups comments under the original post. I’m not a big fan of that “internet blue” interface, but I’m crossing my fingers that styling isn’t far off.

    I’ve switched entirely from Twitter’s interface to FF’s. Now I just wish my friends who only Twitter would join me.

  27. @Robert: what if the Stanford MBAs just don’t care? Twitter may be a classic first mover here – innovative technology that attracts early adopters, but it just can’t deliver the goods to appeal to the broader market.

    Maybe it’s not that Stanford MBAs haven’t heard of Twitter – maybe it’s that the value Twitter offers isn’t correctly targeted? If that’s the case, it wouldn’t matter how well Twitter performs because others will replace it eventually.

  28. @Robert: what if the Stanford MBAs just don’t care? Twitter may be a classic first mover here – innovative technology that attracts early adopters, but it just can’t deliver the goods to appeal to the broader market.

    Maybe it’s not that Stanford MBAs haven’t heard of Twitter – maybe it’s that the value Twitter offers isn’t correctly targeted? If that’s the case, it wouldn’t matter how well Twitter performs because others will replace it eventually.

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