Monday, April 09, 2007

Twitter vs. Jaiku? I'm worried...

Call me a big party pooper, but my gut reaction to this "Jaiku" vs. "Twitter" argument is worry. I'm worried because I have become to be a real flat-earther, and have a hard time seeing how either service can become super-unique or super-sticky over the long haul. I'm worried about the founder's and the investor's wallets. Here's why:
  1. The infrastructure costs to put together a similar service provider are miniscule, or at least, so small as to be a rounding error on the size of any sizable company. Give me a good team, a million or so bucks and a few months - I have a knock off ready.
  2. Given the flexibility of our fast-becoming-literate web, it's hard to see that any provider would have a hammer lock on your presence. Who has a hammer lock on your presence? You, and only you. I can't imagine all of us running backwards to give it to somebody else, either. It's simply too easy to put up an RSS feed, or to aggregate other's RSS feed. If the service goes down, or becomes painful, I can switch really easily. And so can my friends. Damn, I might just run a couple of them at the same time... why not?
  3. They both have (basically) horizontal services, so the level to which they can add insane application value is limited. Seems like a bad combination - an easily replicated service targeted towards horizontal, high churn markets. They will have to play the market share game, and race the other participants to the bottom. (Sorry, been there and done that.)
  4. Twitter is simply annoying from my handset. It's nice that you just caught a cab, but after the fifth week of it, I'm heading for the Motrin. My team uses twitter to speak between ourselves, and that's about it. If Twitter goes away, we'll use Jaiku, or RSS, or e-mail lists, or.... you get the point. Sure, it's cool, but it's so damn chatty. Feels a bit like pet rocks and mood rings. At some point, somebody will say "Do you remember when everyone was so f*cking bloggy, chat web 2.0 happy that they posted to Twitter two dozen times a day?" If you really want to know how boring it might be to be the Almighty, go to http://www.twittervision.com for an hour.
I use both services, and like them. It is good stuff. But my gut tells me that the era of first mover advantage, especially with Web 2.0 sorts of social networking applications, is over. It's simply too easy to move to another provider, and too easy to put those providers together in the first place. I imagine a good life for both companies, but have a hard time wishing that I put my money into them when they started. Maybe they have some great geo-targeted location based advertising angle up their sleeves, but it seems like stretch and off their natural course. For their sakes, I hope they prove me wrong.

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