SmoothSpan Blog

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What is With Twitter? Google, this is Where You Should Step Up

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 21, 2010

The ink is hardly dry on yesterday’s post about Twitter’s inability to roll out their new UI faster when I wake up to the news that Twitter has been totally hacked.  Not just hacked a little bit.  Not just hacked if you do some certain thing.  Hacked as in, “Don’t even bring up the site or you may get hacked too.”  Don’t believe me, it’s all over the web.

By now, Twitter says they’ve fixed the problem, but it’s not exactly confidence inspring.  I hear from comments and emails on my other post that the new UI is full of problems too.

Here is a company that has raised over $100M in capital, yet they seemingly have a hard time with the basics.  For a long time they couldn’t scale, and now this problem.  Do you guys have QA?  Do you have a real software development process?  Is your architecture solid?  Tell me you are not doomed

At the same time, they’ve pretty well killed off their ecosystem by taking over the key successsful add-on niches as their own. 

Meanwhile, Google has designs on Social Media.  Here is the thing Google.  These Twitter guys have stumbled and stumbled.  Their service is popular, but its technology is straightforward.  We can argue about whether it even is Social Media (it isn’t), but that’s not really important.  Put your Facebook plans on hold for a time.  Build a Twitter clone.  Buzz is sort of that, and maybe could serve, but it needs to be dead on and not vague about its intent to supplant Twitter (no pussyfooting around).  Weave it into G-Mail and your other apps.  Make it better (but don’t do anything weird, focus on polish).  Make it stable.  Make it a reasonable alternative to Twitter which many have said needs to be an Open Platform anyway.  And BTW, make it open and be Switzerland.  Put it on Android.  Create and nurture a vibrant ecosystem.

Since everyone uses Twitter more to broadcast news than to actually interact, this is a franchise you can build.  It actually has minimal network effects (not saying it has none) to lock in its users.  You just need to make sure the widgets to broadcast on your service are awesome.  In fact, I would set them up to broadcast on Twitter too, just so people can change widgets once and not have to worry about it to have all the bases covered.  In addition, if you can make it easy to build followers, or especially to keep your old Twitter followers, you are set.

This is not a particularly high risk or hard to execute plan for Google.  Put all the wood behind that arrow.  You will succeed.  And you can build on that success.

Related Articles

Oh no.  Some evidence Twitter new about this late last month.

Similar problems for Twitter last year.

Web brands, get your house in order.  Phil Wainewright’s take on this sort of thing.

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3 Responses to “What is With Twitter? Google, this is Where You Should Step Up”

  1. rnugent said

    I think focusing on followers is the big ticket here. If I can “import” my followers to another system, I’m gone in a heartbeat. Oh yeah, get rid of the 140 chars thing too.

  2. angelbc said

    Google had a great chance to get Twitter out of the way years ago and curiously in very similar circumstances in 2009 when it acquired Jaiku. At that time Twitter was starting to get off the ground but Jaiku was considered its closest competitor (Sort of Tumbr and Posterous nowadays). It had even worse scaling problems then and nowhere near the number of users. It would have been so easy for Google to make Jaiku the in-house option for microblogging and give to everyone with a Gmail account and kill Twitter at its weakest.

    But it didn’t happen.

    Habit is too strong now. Twitter would have to screw up even more (if that is even possible) for users to move away from it now. Sometimes we tech geeks forget that average users care very little for technical prowess and proficiency. They use what they know until enough persons they know switch to something else or they see it in TV.

    Users won’t be abandoning Twitter because of this or something else. Not with a shiny (and quite useful), new toy in their hands.

    Just look at Facebook ;)

  3. smoothspan said

    Angel, Facebook is a little different when you look at its engagement numbers. They’re healthier than Twitter’s. Twitter tends to be more a “write only” broadcast channel, and a good deal of that broadcast is driven by widgets rather than fingers on keyboards. So, you don’t have to move the eyeballs so much as the message generators. Google can do that. Also most people discover search is a better way to get the good stuff than follow. There again, Google can do that.

    Cheers,

    BW

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