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.

Comments

  1. @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.

  2. @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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 !!

  8. 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 !!

  9. 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).

  10. 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).

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. @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 :)

  16. @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 :)

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. [...] Twitter: grabbing defeat from the jaws of success :: Robert Scoble – Roberts thinks Twitter could be heading in to some rough times with its userbase. One has to wonder that if it does and given FriendFeed’s continual growth and popularity whether Pownce or Jaiku even have any relevance any more. [...]

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. The twitter UI is simple to understand. The FriendFeed one is just confusing as hell. Tried to get my head around it but it’s just such a mess with no way of sorting the feeds.

  31. The twitter UI is simple to understand. The FriendFeed one is just confusing as hell. Tried to get my head around it but it’s just such a mess with no way of sorting the feeds.

  32. “I’m also noticing another thing: many of my friends are answering Twitter messages in FriendFeed.”

    How is this any different from the model that Twitter has always had? Twitter gets 10x traffic from the API versus the Twitter web site. I use FriendFeed AND Twitter and the fact that I might respond to a message from FriendFeed is no different from me responding to a message from Twhirl.

    Also, I have only chosen to follow a small percentage of the people that I’m following on Twitter (about 50 out of 600) in FriendFeed. If I followed all 600 of them it would be an information flow tsunami and it would make FriendFeed completely unusable from me. I have cherry picked about 50 people from my 600 Twitter friends and that’s working very well for me. I really think Twitter and FriendFeed can coexist and complement each other. I don’t see it as a competition.

  33. “I’m also noticing another thing: many of my friends are answering Twitter messages in FriendFeed.”

    How is this any different from the model that Twitter has always had? Twitter gets 10x traffic from the API versus the Twitter web site. I use FriendFeed AND Twitter and the fact that I might respond to a message from FriendFeed is no different from me responding to a message from Twhirl.

    Also, I have only chosen to follow a small percentage of the people that I’m following on Twitter (about 50 out of 600) in FriendFeed. If I followed all 600 of them it would be an information flow tsunami and it would make FriendFeed completely unusable from me. I have cherry picked about 50 people from my 600 Twitter friends and that’s working very well for me. I really think Twitter and FriendFeed can coexist and complement each other. I don’t see it as a competition.

  34. Well said Mike D…

    First off – Robert you are a TNBT (The Next Big Thing) evangelist and love to shout out about how great the upcoming services are. Respect for that – I think a large percentage of their growth is down to you and people like you promoting them. This is a good thing…

    Twitter is about shouting something out to the empty space that is the web and occasionally getting back something cool. I don’t rely on it for conversation (and I hope none of the people I follow do) as the signal to noise ration is very low (and I only follow a hundred or so people) but sometimes you can have a fun conversation or help someone out…

    If people are having their conversations hurt by twitter dropping posts they should make sure that people know to contact them by an alternate method if they get no response… It’s like CB radios – and old school networking if you don’t get a “gotcha, over” or an “ACK” you should assume sending failed or is being ignored or MIGHT be read later.

    FeedFriend on the other hand is a big ol’ tool for communicating and stalking. I think it’s great but I wouldn’t replace something like Twitter with it in a million years… Complementary yes – competetive no.

    Cheers.

  35. Well said Mike D…

    First off – Robert you are a TNBT (The Next Big Thing) evangelist and love to shout out about how great the upcoming services are. Respect for that – I think a large percentage of their growth is down to you and people like you promoting them. This is a good thing…

    Twitter is about shouting something out to the empty space that is the web and occasionally getting back something cool. I don’t rely on it for conversation (and I hope none of the people I follow do) as the signal to noise ration is very low (and I only follow a hundred or so people) but sometimes you can have a fun conversation or help someone out…

    If people are having their conversations hurt by twitter dropping posts they should make sure that people know to contact them by an alternate method if they get no response… It’s like CB radios – and old school networking if you don’t get a “gotcha, over” or an “ACK” you should assume sending failed or is being ignored or MIGHT be read later.

    FeedFriend on the other hand is a big ol’ tool for communicating and stalking. I think it’s great but I wouldn’t replace something like Twitter with it in a million years… Complementary yes – competetive no.

    Cheers.

  36. Get a life. Twitter and FriendFeed are walled gardens and ivory towers for the self selecting sufferers of mental diarhia. While you pose on them, the world passes you by.

  37. Get a life. Twitter and FriendFeed are walled gardens and ivory towers for the self selecting sufferers of mental diarhia. While you pose on them, the world passes you by.

  38. when discussing Twitter or Friendfeed with MBA students one must not forget Facebook… I’m in IT and I both Twit and use FF (among others), but my wife, she is an MBA student (DC area), and her entire program does Facebook. They send messages like Twitter and now they are aggregating like FF. So basically FB is a one stop shot for them. If it is not on Facebook or sent via email (or even their Google Group) it doesn’t happen… As for me using Twit over FF, well if I could post to FF via my cell and or IM, well then I may start sharing directly via FF, but till then… Twit definitely covers me for instant sharing.

  39. when discussing Twitter or Friendfeed with MBA students one must not forget Facebook… I’m in IT and I both Twit and use FF (among others), but my wife, she is an MBA student (DC area), and her entire program does Facebook. They send messages like Twitter and now they are aggregating like FF. So basically FB is a one stop shot for them. If it is not on Facebook or sent via email (or even their Google Group) it doesn’t happen… As for me using Twit over FF, well if I could post to FF via my cell and or IM, well then I may start sharing directly via FF, but till then… Twit definitely covers me for instant sharing.

  40. I’m sorry but there is just too much noise on FriendFeed for me to ever use it as my main communication tool. Twitter is THE communication tool for me to connect with my friends and followers, share links and thoughts. I see FriendFeed as a complimentary service to Twitter.

  41. I’m sorry but there is just too much noise on FriendFeed for me to ever use it as my main communication tool. Twitter is THE communication tool for me to connect with my friends and followers, share links and thoughts. I see FriendFeed as a complimentary service to Twitter.

  42. One of the reasons you might be seeing such rapid growth on FriendFeed is thanks to the great sign-up process they have designed, which includes you among a bunch of suggested subscriptions to get started. They’ve made it very easy to import other sources like Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Flickr accounts and co. Far better than any other start-up tech I can think of.

    I don’t find FriendFeed useful for real-time conversations. For me, it works best as an aggregator, both to publish a stream of what I’ve been collecting/sharing for others to view and for me to view other peoples’ streams. It’s interesting to see how differently people are using it. Perhaps an indicator that FriendFeed is looking more like a platform than an application?

  43. One of the reasons you might be seeing such rapid growth on FriendFeed is thanks to the great sign-up process they have designed, which includes you among a bunch of suggested subscriptions to get started. They’ve made it very easy to import other sources like Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Flickr accounts and co. Far better than any other start-up tech I can think of.

    I don’t find FriendFeed useful for real-time conversations. For me, it works best as an aggregator, both to publish a stream of what I’ve been collecting/sharing for others to view and for me to view other peoples’ streams. It’s interesting to see how differently people are using it. Perhaps an indicator that FriendFeed is looking more like a platform than an application?

  44. [...] ロバート・スコーブルは「TwitterがダウンしたらFriendFeedの大勝利だ」と騒いでる。次のサービス障害に備え非常用対策プランをハックしてるデイブ・ワイナーは、まるで次の大嵐に備え蝋燭とボトル入りの水をストックする人のようだ。が、ここまで見事にしてやられた事実を思うと、私としては「やれやれ」とただ首を振るほかない。 [...]

  45. Interesting comment about Stanford MBAs and Twitter awareness. I am finishing up my final year at The Merage School of Business and I have been leading the charge of introducing our graduating class to Twitter in our innovative EDGE course.
    It is a work in progress to help them understand the value of Twitter, but at least they have been exposed to it.

  46. Interesting comment about Stanford MBAs and Twitter awareness. I am finishing up my final year at The Merage School of Business and I have been leading the charge of introducing our graduating class to Twitter in our innovative EDGE course.
    It is a work in progress to help them understand the value of Twitter, but at least they have been exposed to it.

  47. But yet only a handful of tech bloggers have ever heard of WAM Picaso, Prescient Systems, G2 e-SCOR or IFS Apps.

    Nah nah nah.

  48. But yet only a handful of tech bloggers have ever heard of WAM Picaso, Prescient Systems, G2 e-SCOR or IFS Apps.

    Nah nah nah.

  49. Damn and twitter was going to revolutionize the way we… have really incredibly short attention spans and are self absorbed and think everytime we burp the world outta know.

    Twitter’s down. W T F cares?

  50. Damn and twitter was going to revolutionize the way we… have really incredibly short attention spans and are self absorbed and think everytime we burp the world outta know.

    Twitter’s down. W T F cares?