what if twitter

Posted by on February 26, 2009 in geeky stuff | 1 comment

started charging to sign up?

Part of the value in Twitter for a user is the ability to communicate with a wider circle of influence than you might otherwise of been able, as the masses join twitter the danger is that the noise to signal ratio increases making it less useful – but what if they’d started charging when they hit a certain number of users?

Would it start to make some real money that so far it has only hinted at being able to earn? Would people of left the service for another? Certainly charging existing users, would create a mass exodus… but some of the attraction for early adopters is the exclusive club feel – that would be, in some ways, amplified.

This is a very hypothetical post btw – it came from being asked why twitter was anything more than “the next big thing” – in their words, “it was all about friends reunited, then myspace, then facebook… now everyones joining twitter – its just another fad, I’m not signing up”.

That conversation led me to the thought above and also to wonder, what’s the next big thing?

What if twitter IS just a fad?

Some people lose a lot of money, the cool kids move on, the spammers and randomness takes over – this is based on what some people would perceive happened to myspace as a platform, although I would argue its reverted back to its “native” state of being a good place for bands/musicians/DJs/performers.

So what do you think?

Is it a fad?

If so, what’s next?

1 Comment

  1. Hmm…good question.

    I thought Facebook was a fad but it’s turned out to have quite a longevity in my social circle. I’m starting to get some sense of Twitter-overload and would definitely drop it if I had to pay.

    My reason is that I’ve not yet worked out what space Twitter occupies in my portfolio of online tools. I’ll try to explain.

    There are two things I like about Facebook:
    – Peoples’ status updates. These give me a hook into their lives and offer the chance to communicate in more detail when they’re thinking/saying/doing something that I might want to contribute to. One Facebook-hating friend of mine says “Why don’t you just pick up the phone”, and the truth is that using Facebook gives me reasons to pick up the phone. It generates real-life interaction rather than stifling it.
    – Photo sharing. I know this can be done elsewhere but for some reason it’s become a key feature of Facebook for me. Well, actually, I would choose to share elsewhere, so it’s mostly how I ge to see photos of what others have been up to.

    All the other features of Facebook I rarely, if ever, use, and I consider them clutter.

    So – in comes Twitter, which is really Facebook status updates without the clutter! Brilliant. I signed up and encouraged friends to. But no one came because they couldn’t see the benefit.

    So I sat an Tweeted, mostly by myself. But slowly interesting people (who I don’t know in real life) came along and got discovered. People with similar interests to myself. And they are my followees.

    I now follow more than Tweet and I get inspiration, news, help with queries, and I receive a lot from others.

    But without my “real” friends there, I don’t have much reason to stick around.

    Had my friends all rushed over to Twitter from FB then Twitter would probably have become indispensable. As it is, Twitter is, for me, a source of fun and interesting information, and a place to share a little of what I’m up to. It could easily be replaced by other sites like community forums.

    It’s not, for me, a key part of my life and work and therefore I wouldn’t pay for it.

    I hope Twitter’s not a fad, but I think it needs to find its place, its purpose, its reason for being. It somehow needs to make itself indispensible (to me – I appreciate that it may already be for others!) if it were to want to charge.

    How that happens is another essay.

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