It’s Time For FriendFeed To Kill Twitter
So that was a little sarcastic, but news of Twitter being down simply isn’t news anymore. There has been another round (seemingly never ending now) of Twitter whinging but not enough discussion around the solution. Given that Twitter is so useless that even they don’t know what’s wrong with their own service, it’s time for someone to kill Twitter.
Dave Winer and a few others have previously discussed a distributed, open source Twitter that doesn’t rely on a centralized database. It’s a nice theory, but it ignores two realities: business model and people. Centralization is a business model that works as one company builds something they own, sure open source has its place but no serious startup (note startup, not big players) is going to build a system that doesn’t in some way provide them direct benefits going forward. The second problem is people: Twitter has them, every one who has tried to compete with Twitter so far (Jaiku, Pownce) doesn’t, and people only end up using services where their friends are. The bonus mix is competency: the dev team has to be competent at scaling, developing and running a Twitter like service.
Which one company can currently deliver in centralization, people, scale and competency?
It’s time for FriendFeed to kill Twitter.
What FriendFeed can deliver to the table
- a centralized service with established user protocols that is already sustaining Twitter like communications.
- FriendFeed is already scaling with arguably more data than is being processed by Twitter. Consider that FriendFeed aggregates Twitter content already along with other data
- The FriendFeed team is competent, consisting of ex-Googlers and the service itself hasn’t been plagued by serious problems (it may have had the odd outage, but I don’t recall the last one) despite a near Twitter like growth in their user base.
There are some challenges in FriendFeed taking on Twitter. Primarily FriendFeed is a noisy service currently where as Twitter has succeeded due to its simplicity, but this can be easily overcome. Yesterday FriendFeed launched FriendFeed Rooms, essentially dedicated streams of collective information within FriendFeed itself. It wouldn’t be hard to allow users to create a Twitter like messaging service in a separate tab or even as their first point of reference in FriendFeed (as an option) so those who are interested only in the Twitter-like messaging can use that service primarily (or only) with FriendFeed.
Better still, FriendFeed already has the API’s in place. I can already filter my FriendFeed list via Twitter messages, all FriendFeed has to do is facilitate this with their own dedicated messaging service, a service I might add is sort of already there, although not limited to 144 characters.
It’s time to stop complaining and instead start looking for solutions which Twitter will never provide. If FriendFeed goes down this path I’m sure I won’t be alone is supporting them, and eventually abandoning Twitter altogether.
Update: interesting discussion on FriendFeed about this post already. I need to emphasize one thing: I do not believe that FriendFeed as it currently stands can or will replace Twitter. I believe that if they aimed to do so they could in the future. Hard core Twitter fans who don’t like FriendFeed are not going to switch to FriendFeed unless FriendFeed offers a Twitter like simple, clean and functional optional interface that substitutes the Twitter experience without the noise. As I noted above, we have FF Rooms, why couldn’t we have something like FF messaging in a tab?