Has Twitter as a platform stalled?

By June 19, 2008 Social 4 Comments

or why I haven’t continued building on the twitter platformtwitter

As many of you may know, my team at Infinimedia built one of the most popular twitter clients out there, Twitbin, which has over 35,000 users now. We were one of the first to build something along these lines (definitely not the first by any stretch), but we were clearly not the last or most popular.  Something interesting occured shortly after we built it: we stopped building.

You might be thinking, why is this even remotely interesting Brian? Well typically when we build something, we keep adding to it and improving it. With Twitbin, we have added a few things here and there, updated it to the latest versions of Firefox, etc., but we haven’t overhauled it or added anything major in a year. So we’ve been sitting on plans for a major overhaul + expanded offerings for something like 9 months, but we haven’t moved on it. Why? Well we couldn’t afford the time to something suffering from such instability. No matter how kickass we could make Twitbin 2.0, we would still be inundated with emails every time twitter goes down. If you’re building on someone else’s platform, whenever they are down, you are down. There is no way around that.

So will we ever start working on Twitbin2.0? Well thats a good question. We have a few options, but building something that makes money off of a service that doesn’t is inherently tough. We experimented with ads in our client, I think we made so little it wasn’t worth the annoyance it caused our users. But the underlying issue is reliability. We would love to invest the time and money in building out more creative and useful twitter tools, but at the moment there are other platforms which are more reliable and more money behind making them good long term bets.

I am not proclaiming twitter as a platform dead by any means. It will take ages for a plurk or a pownce to overtake twitter as far as utility (utility to me is the # of users on it x attention spent there). I am just thinking that its time to look back at the platform and all the platforms out there and measure their worth.  So I want to know what you think about twitter’s platform or any of the other micro-messaging platforms?

  • http://www.twitter.com/mborghese M Borghese

    I agree – it is time to take a look at Twitter and access it’s importance on the web. While the platform may remain important to you personally, it may not be a platform you want to devote additional time/attention/resources to.

    Personally, I’m a newcomer to Twitter and micro-blogging, using it as a way to keep an eye on the musings of a few interesting characters.

    My personal experience with Twitter has been that it suffers from overcapacity/server problems far more often than I would expect for such a “popular” service. I don’t complain about it (the service is free after all) but I do see how it’s shortcomings, whether they are tech-based or human-based, can give you pause when deciding if you should continue working with it professionally.

    Sorry I can’t offer much in the way of advice on how to proceed or where to go next. But I figured I should offer my support and say that I do feel you’re moving in the right direction by reexamining the platform’s utility and popularity.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mborghese M Borghese

    I agree – it is time to take a look at Twitter and access it’s importance on the web. While the platform may remain important to you personally, it may not be a platform you want to devote additional time/attention/resources to.

    Personally, I’m a newcomer to Twitter and micro-blogging, using it as a way to keep an eye on the musings of a few interesting characters.

    My personal experience with Twitter has been that it suffers from overcapacity/server problems far more often than I would expect for such a “popular” service. I don’t complain about it (the service is free after all) but I do see how it’s shortcomings, whether they are tech-based or human-based, can give you pause when deciding if you should continue working with it professionally.

    Sorry I can’t offer much in the way of advice on how to proceed or where to go next. But I figured I should offer my support and say that I do feel you’re moving in the right direction by reexamining the platform’s utility and popularity.