Some thoughts about Twitter in late summer 2012, re the news industry.
Twitter is starting to get aggressive and territorial with news organizations the same way it’s been with developers. We’re all in the same boat re Twitter. They just started earlier with developers and they’re further along. I think this is because they understood development better, and other media companies have more to give them than developers did. They’ve done some big partnering with TV networks. And you see their logos on every bus in New York, and on every TV screen on every cable system in America, and probably by now all over the world.
And they have a big partnership with Apple that gets Twitter a lot of user interface presence on Apple’s mobile devices and on the Mac.
I think Twitter and Apple are headed to the same place — halfway between TV networks and the Internet. More video, more programming, users pressing Like buttons, making wheels spin, watching celebrities and of course commercials.
Twitter has to make what’s flowing over their network more appealing, and somehow figure out some more interesting interactivity than they have now. The innovation has been with the users, but Twitter hasn’t given users any new tools in a long time. That’s where, imho, the competition is going to be. This is still very undeveloped. And Twitter has a problem here because the talent on their network doesn’t work for them. But they have so much cash, they can change that.
They’ll likely keep partnering with TV networks, as long as none of them have a realtime distribution system that can compete with theirs. Once that happens, it’ll be like Iran getting nuclear weapons. If CNN had their own Twitter, and had some good media hackers working for them, they might get a leg up on Twitter. It would be pretty easy to go to another website. I do it, with my tabbed river, and a bunch of other people are using it too. I’m looking for more ways to take this idea on the road. I’d like to fill the channel with these things. I don’t care if I do them all. This is the kind of crazy cacaphony that will make Twitter look like old news, give them a reason to start adding new features. That’s going to happen pretty soon. If not here, elsewhere. Because Twitter is making themselves smaller and less interesting. Deliberately. I wonder if that’s the right move. They’re playing as if they have a pretty good hand. Might be bluffing.
The thing is rivers don’t take a lot of CPU. They work really well on Amazon S3, and the content software can maintain a bunch of rivers with lots of feeds on a micro instance on Amazon EC2. That makes rivers realllly cheap relative to the systems Twitter is running. And the feeds are everywhere. Think about that. There’s no adoption curve to climb here. Love it.
Anyway it’s a fluid time because now Twitter is coming out and asserting their rights to content that flows through their servers. I don’t think they have a leg to stand on. But that’s waking up the news people. I’m sure Twitter knows it will do that.