Wednesday, 26 August 2009

How Much Longer Does Twitter Have?

There is little argument that Twitter is expanding ever rapidly. It has come to the point now in fact where, according to a YouTube video, Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama. I am a moderate twitterer/ tweeter/ twit/twat or whatever the word is but I have never seen the point in following celebrities. Do people really want that kind of intimacy from some second rate actor or a chat show host? That said, just because they follow them doesn't mean that they ever come back, a massive proportion of Twitter's members tweet once then leave, perhaps they follow one of these people just before they leave? Or maybe people really do have more free time than I give them credit for.
But recently twitter doesn't seem to be holding up very well. Never have I seen a service with so many ways of fining out if it is down or not, and this can't just be down to the fact they they seem to be a target of DDoS attacks, they just don't have the facilities to cope with the volume of traffic they receive at the moment. Then today I read about their security problems, where, for those of you who don't like to click links, simply receiving a tweet would allow someone to take over your account, TechCrunch's advice is to stay away for the next couple of days. The other big problem is the same problem that killed MySpace, that of spam. I'm sure that any people out there who use Twitter have noticed the ever increasing numbers of spammers, and it is really annoying.
The problem, as do so many, comes down to money. I'm sure they'd love to upgrade their servers, employ enough programmers that a problem like this can be patched in a couple of hours, and employ people to hunt out and delete spam accounts but they are slow to fix things and making no money and these things are not unrelated.
The thing is, people seem increasingly fed up with Facebook in a similar was to how people were fed up with MySpace, I hear more and more people talking about how fed up they are with facebook, and the logical next place to go is Twitter. But are they ready? Not yet.
Unless Twitter finds a business model soon, I think it will collapse as people move over to a different social network, or perhaps just back to Facebook.
An option that I liked that was being discussed on a CNet podcast, I forget whether it was Buzz out Loud or CNet UK, but the idea of opening up the protocol, in the same way the blogging is implemented. This way the load could be shared amongst all of the different providers. They pointed out that Twitter would not do this until they have worked out how they are going to monetize Twitter.
An option that I don't understand for monetizing twitter is the only option they seem to be discussing, that of keeping it free (right move) but charging for analysis tools and other professional tools. I know that people like dell make money (reportedly $3 million) by posting up special offers on twitter, direct to their biggest fans, but would Dell pay extra for extra tools? how would these tools help them sell more computers?
I'm not gonna pretend that I am any kind of expert on this, I just read a lot, and I know that social networks get replaced when the public gets fed up with them. And I like Twitter, I just hate the service.

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