As any CTO, I have to explore new technologies and market trends on a daily basis. Operating in the worlds of software and innovation makes this imperative and even more essential. With the role of social networking and media still in its early stages of emergence, I have been watching (and using) the media darling, Twitter, for a while now. In March, I posted The Trouble With Twitter. Here are a few more comments on Twitter with two more months behind us.
Twitter is clearly undergoing some severe growing pains. There are many times when the service is slow and choppy. This undermines the user experience and cannot be good for the retention of users. Could it be that in the absence of a revenue stream that Twitter has made a conscious decision to not grow infrastructure to meet demand? Some recent changes in the service are suggestive as they seem to be targeted at reducing the traffic routing volume. Given the instability of the user experience, it is no surprise that reports have surfaced showing Twitter has an abysmal user retention rate compared to other leading social platforms.
Twitter has not yet shown that it is going to take control of its destiny. One gets the impression that they view themselves as an evolving bag of features. If this is so, it is not good for Twitter. They need to think of themselves as a platform for user experience and act accordingly. It’s great to have a lot of interested parties building apps around your technology and extending the capability models for you. But, this is no substitute for user experience design and truly understanding the needs and aspirations of your audience. Twitter needs to drive its own innovation agenda.
Lastly, it seems incredible that Twitter has still not given any indications of a monetization model. It’s not that hard. I have thought of several great strategies to monetize the platform, and I know many of you have also identified some interesting ideas. So, why is it that Twitter has not? You would think that if they put half the effort into the business model that they have put into hyping Twitter, they would have launched a successful monetization strategy by now. Meanwhile, the hype engine churns along. Of course, that could be a monetization strategy. While no one knows what Twitter’s business really is, anyone is free to imagine the potential as being as enormous as their own hubris. Yet as any politician knows, the minute you take a position, you lose votes. Could it be that Twitter finds itself in the awkward position of having a hype inflated value that is so high that any announcement of a specific business model will only reduce the current potential exit value? Hmm…
So after two more months of Twitter watching, I don’t find the prognosis for Twitter has improved much. What do you think?