Why your Twitter spin-off's days may be numbered ∞
If Twitter is a start-up with no business model, what on earth do you make of the many Twitter-centric web sites, blogs and applications that are springing up daily?
Not that you can blame the people behind these projects &mdash if there's one thing a social network loves to do, it's navel gaze. Nothing rises to the top of Reddit or Digg like a self-referencing story. In the same way, Twitter-based projects often attract great attention and spread rapidly within the Twitter community.
Of course, we've seen this kind of situation before. Both MySpace and Facebook had their moments as the platform du jour. Anyone who follows such matters has seen many a project crushed at the whim of its dictatorial host. More than once MySpace has dropped the guillotine on a developer's widget, blocking it from being posted to profile pages, and thereby suffocating it of users. Or perhaps even more cruelly, these networks might develop an in-house version of a popular application and use the power inherent in owning the bat, ball and whole damn baseball field to divert the torrent of users towards its own alternative.
It's really only a matter of time before we see such occurrences within the 'Twitterverse'. For a start, the number of projects using the words Twitter™ or Tweet™ in their names is astounding. This shows very naïve thinking on the developer's part — both these terms are trademarks of Twitter, Inc. We see Digg, for example, quite readily force developers to take down and rename projects using the Digg trademark.
So if your project isn't shut down by lawyers and manages to actually start gaining traction here's your next big problem: whatever you've built, Twitter can probably build and promote its own version more effectively while integrating it more tightly.
One of the most successful applications within Twitter ecosystem must be Twitpic, a service that allows the quick and simple posting of images to Twitter. With well over 3 million unique visitors in April alone Twitpic is growing strongly. Indeed, parasitically, as Twitter grows, so too does Twitpic swell with users, albeit at a slightly gentler pace.
I am sure Twitter is going to soon take on media sharing and rise above its ASCII-centrism. I would also bet they're grateful to Twitpic for shining a light on this path. Links, videos and pictures are commonly passed around on Twitter and this content is perfect fodder for advertising. And hey, it could even bring in some decent revenue for @ev and his crew.
How can I be so sure of this? On September 22, 2008 guess who registered twimg.com?