SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Twitter is Virtual Blackberry (aka RIM Should Buy Twitter)

Posted by Bob Warfield on October 3, 2007

You know all those people who are so addicted to their Blackberry (or equivalent, mine’s a Treo) that they call them Crackberries?  They’re likely candidates for Twitter.  Or for those who keep hearing about Twitter but can’t figure out what it is, think of it as a Virtual Blackberry. 

The terse, choppy, but oh-so-immediate interchanges are very similar.  We’ve all been Blackberried.  You send someone a thoughtful email, they’re sitting in a meeting bored somewhere, they see your thoughtful email, and make out just enough to give you a noncommital response, “I’ll look into it.”  I hate being Blackberried.  It means that someone took your valuable communication off the in stack and moved it to their out stack after having read it through a tiny little window.  Having been on the receiving end with my Treo, I know its impossible to see enough of what’s going on through that tiny little view slit to do more than know I need to call or get to real email because something is up.

So it is with Twitter.  All these stoccato little messages flying around.  Heaven forbid you actually connect your Blackberry to Twitter, there’ll be no place left to hide out!  Of course these two, Twitter and Blackberry, can easily be married together so that they are connected.  CellFreak and many others tell us how to mobilize Twitter.

But there are some key differences.  You have to opt into who you want to follow in Twitter.  This gives you more control over who is firing those little messages at you.  You know when you get a Tweet (a message on Twitter) that you’ve asked for it.  Twitter is even more immediate and streamlined than a Blackberry e-mail exchange too. 

James Governor calls the Blackberry “the most important company in Office and Enterprise 2.0 in terms of behavioural change, worklife balance and so on. RIM manages you 24 hours a day.”  If that’s true, isn’t Twitter connected to that as well in some meaningful way?  If it isn’t, it seems to me that it will be before too long.  Nick Carr is a little more ominous (positively Orwellian):

Maybe what’s really going on – and I think this is what Governor is getting at – is the expansion of the corporation to encompass what used to lie outside it, what we once referred to as “our private lives.”

I can see where Nick is coming from.  I remember years ago my boss asked me to get on AOL IM, which is another related experience.  I set up an account and quit thinking about it.  A few weeks later I was at home on the weekend, and suddenly my boss was in my house via IM wanting an immediate response to some fairly stressful questions.  My personal life and it’s separation from business life had changed forever, courtesy of this little piece of software.

Not everyone likes Twitter (or the Blackberry either, for that matter).  It’s one of those tastes that can fiercely polarize people.  It’s a big part of what got me thinking about my Web 2.0 Personality Style theories.  I don’t know how many are using Twitter today as a power tool for business, but given the legions that are using Blackberry for business, it can’t be long before we start hearing about Twitter a lot.  For now, check out what Bill Ives and FierceCIO have to say about Twitter in the Enterprise.

In the department of total non-sequitors, why shouldn’t RIM (Blackberry’s owner) try to acquire Twitter?  It’s all the rage for web companies to move onto the desktop, why shouldn’t mobile get a piece of that action?  And what better way than via Twitter?

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