Monday, April 28, 2008
Twitter isn't mainstream yet, but it will be
Kara Swisher took a swipe at Twitter today, claiming that no one outside the 'Silicon Valley echo chamber' knew of the service. She apparently bases this assumption on polling attendees of a wedding where no one had heard of the site.
First, let me say that the blogosphere/twittersphere is notorious for going apeshit over the 'shiny new toy'. Anyone that's been on Twitter in the last 24 hours is likely already sick of hearing the word 'brightkite'. And I'll agree with her that FriendFeed will likely never appeal to anyone outside the 1 percenters.
But I think Twitter has legs. Last week at SBMU, I saw many attendees that had never heard of Twitter, or that were skeptical of its utility, pick up the service and dive in. By the end of the conference, it seemed that about half the people at the event were on Twitter, and I would bet only about 15% were prior. A few friends I met there have since joined in the last few days.
I think the reason why is its simplicity. It's basically a chat room, with some filters built in. You only follow the people you want to follow, and they only follow the ones they want to follow.
IOW, it's not that complex. And it excels at real-time communication. If there is breaking news, you will find out about it on Twitter first, before the blogs and definitely before the mainstream news catches up. As the SBMU attendees found out first-hand, it's also excellent for sharing information at conferences.
Twitter's biggest hurdle is probably its own scaling issues. TwitDir is claiming that Twitter has now crossed the 1 million user mark. Still, that's obviously not mainstream. Twitter is making new hires and getting more rounds of funding, so hopefully the API issues will be addressed soon.
But the next time there is a major news story that affects the majority of the country, it will be broke/discussed first on Twitter. That will suddenly make the mainstream media seriously take notice, which will make the service relevant to a lot more people.
I say Twitter has 5 million users by this time next year. What say you?
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing