Twitter – Fad or the Future?

Lots of the blogs are posting stories about Twitter, Evan William‘s new SMS-based start-up. If you haven’t heard of it, basically people can subscribe to your messages and they then receive them as a (free) SMS, IM or on a web page/RSS feed. You can also post messages from SMS/IM or the web. It’s designed for micro-blogging, stating your presence/feelings to a lot of people. If you’re on Facebook, it’s a bit like having your ‘status’ automatically sent to all of your friends.

The US has only really just got behind SMS, so they’re all very enamoured with anything to do with it. Us Europeans on the other hand have been texting for over a decade so it’s not very new. I use Twitter for a pub-mob mailing list, when i’m desperate for a beer I message my list and my friends can come and join me for a pint. I use it because it saves me the cost (and hassle) of 30 text messages to a load of different people.

Jason Calcanis makes a point that he thinks that Twitter’s about to explode and become a conduit to send lots of media to people’s mobile devices. He may be right, but i’m not so sure. I would hate it if my mobile device got pushed to it all of my friends on-the-move content. I can barely keep up with my blog feeds and Facebook friends let alone having my phone beep at me all the time. I’m already being interrupted by James’ tea-rota and blog posts updates and Nick’s drunken musings, I can’t cope with much more stuff.

Now with Twitter you can, of course, opt to have things sent only to IM/Web, which is useful, but that then merely replicates functionality of other services that do the job better.

Whilst I do agree with is that the mobile is going to be a hub of on-the-move activity and i’ll be catching up on feeds and emails and content on the move, I think its the established apps that are migrate over and be able in mobile form. Ubiquitious internet will merely flow to mobile devices at no cost to consumers.

For example, i’ve just signed up to a new mobile package from Three. For a fixed fee of £27.50/month ($45) i’m getting unlimited data transfer, email, Skype, Slingbox, MSN/Google Talk as well as 750mins and 150 texts over 3G. Basically broadband internet on the move. To succeed Twitter’s going to have to beat all the existing social application’s functionality – just having a headstart through SMS isn’t going to be enough.

Great applications have a good central position. Twitter’s is that it get send multiple messages to people for free.  If it can deliver the right message, at the right time, to people who want to receive it then it’ll do alright.

7 thoughts on “Twitter – Fad or the Future?”

  1. I feel that SMS is slowing Twitter down. It’s nice in that “being there” way, but it ignores how many of us have 2.5 and 3G phones that don’t need SMS to work. Once Twitter goes all rich, it will morph into throwing photos and video and whatever else into the stream, making it truly an ecocosm.

    That said, it could well be a fad, too. Who knows? Things that are popular don’t always win the race. Usually, there’s economics behind the larger shifts.

  2. You know that line we were discussing? The one you have to draw between oneself and the internet, to save your sanity? Twitter is WAY over that line. Avoid. Seriously. Your brain will go all melty.

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