A lot of talk this morning about the downfall of Twitter servers during the Steve Jobs Keynote speech. Apparently the Twitter servers couldn’t handle the traffic that build up. Especially people who were depending on Twitter to live blog the event complaint about this.
Dave Winer suggests that Twitter ought to be decentralised, to prevent it from breaking down. And at the same time he thinks it might be rebuild using the rss technology to make it more sustainable. From a user perspective this is probably a good thing to do. By decentralising it would seem that Twitter would never break down like this, allowing people to continue to use it, even during a hail storm of Tweets.
Scott Karp rightly says that the people that have invested in Twitter will not be too keen on decentralisation. The major asset Twitter, or any other web service, has is their centralised user database. And they won’t be willing to give that up so easily. If the Twitter team ever wants to be able to execute a positive business case, they need it to be centralised. The decentralised version will appear, no doubt about it, but there is another strength that Twitter now seems to have. It’s current brand strength is high. There are already other Twitter-like services around (
Ponce Pownce, Jaiku), but even though these services have sometimes cooler features, they aren’t nearly as successful as Twitter.
I think that the current Twitter business model isn’t sustainable. It depends on the centralised user database and has already shown that this centralisation comes at great cost and reliability. I suspect that Twitter was designed to be bought by Google. That would make a lot of sense. Not only does it fit Google’s business model very well, I also think that Google is probably one of the few companies that could actually scale Twitter to a global level. Let’s not forget that Twitter currently has less than a million active users. It isn’t a big service. It’s users are mostly tech savvy people working in web 2.0, Internet or media companies. Bloggers make a great fuss about it, but my children, wife or family friends have never heard about it. Since they failed correct execution of their business model (get bought by Google, Google bought Jaiku instead), it is time for them to rethink what Twitter should be about. The Twitter team needs to reconsider how to start making money out of the service.
Twitter is a simple, cool, easy to use, messaging system allowing people to share their thoughts and follow other people’s thoughts anywhere and anytime. It is in that sense one of the most simple, yet brilliant, (mobile- and) web services around right now. It has enough critical mass now to scale it to much larger amounts of customers. Now all the Twitter team needs to do is start building a sustainable business model., and fix a few minor issues in the service. Not one that depends on a centralised database, but one that monetises user value. That is the only asset in the end that will make Twitter tick. They will need to find a way to decentralise it, and still make loads of money. I could imagine Twitter becomeing the new messaging system for any web 2.0 service. Why build your own, get it wholesale fromt he Twitter team. And remember, people are always willing to pay for value they receive.
I will keep on twittering and not minding it breaks down every once in a while. It is not a life depending communication service. The bloggers out there screaming in outrage should start using Twitter for what it is. A simple, easy to use, fun, and brilliant messaging system.
BTW, if you are interested, you can find me here on Twitter 😉