Twitter Has Jumped The Shark

Duncan Riley

Notice something about Twitter lately besides the constant downtime? It's gotten quiet. Not deadly quiet, but when it is up every day there seems to be less and less being said. In my case gone are the days where I could use Twitter to track the latest breaking story or the days I had dozens of conversations. It's not just me, Dave Winer and Rafe Needleman have both noticed as well, and others have privately made similar observations to me over the last week.

Twitter has jumped the shark.

"It’s not just down time on Twitter lately that has made the service sit somewhere between frustrating and useless. Even when Twitter is up, updates/ refreshes fail, pages don’t load and third party tools can’t connect. There has been a lot of downtime...Twitter is a service you want to love. Like Blogger, Evan William’s earlier start up, it has not only become a market leader, it has been vital in creating a new online service market focused on IM."

I wrote those words in a post on TechCrunch in May 2007, and back then coming out and saying enough is enough with Twitter was pretty controversial. The post had 31 trackbacks and a range of comments, but people kept on using Twitter because ultimately that was where the community was, something competing services, despite superior platforms, could not find. I soon realized that Twitter users were a dedicated, loyal bunch who would stick with the service no matter what. But even this dedicated loyalty had a limit, and suddenly it seems that at long last people have had enough and are either abandoning Twitter or like me, spending less time on it.

Plurk has been one recipient on the growing Twitter backlash (our review here). Plurk has already become a love it or hate it service, but the remarkable thing I've noticed is that it has grown a large, mainstream active community overnight, the missing ingredient from Pownce and Jaiku. However it's not Twitter, and it never will be. It has benefited from Twitter's problems, but it isn't going to replace it.

Perhaps the saddest thing with Twitter jumping the shark in the loss of the Twitter community, as Dave Winer writes "People wondered what would replace it (Twitter). It's becoming clear the answer to that is the worst possible one -- nothing. The energy of Twitter is evaporating. Which is terrible." I'm still hopeful that enough people will decide to migrate to one service that it becomes a Twitter replacement, however to what? FriendFeed could build a Twitter killer but they haven't, Jaiku is a great platform sitting on Google's servers...but it's closed for signups, Pownce is...well...Pownce, and Plurk has no API.

The obvious business opportunity: somebody comes out with a Twitter competitor with API and scalability. If you've got one ping me so I can take a look and give it a plug.