Twitter: the New Communication Platform?

The first thing I thought when I saw Twitter was, “meh, how is this new?” As so many people, I didn’t see it. But as time passed and people just can’t seem to stop talking about it and it even appeared in the financial times, me too started to see the power of this idea.

Twitter is a kind blogging system, but smaller, messages can just be 140 characters. They’re more like short SMS messages. This length is no coincidence: you can put messages on your twitter page by SMS texting it to some number. Twitter is extremely simple. All you can do is write a message:

Beside that you can add other Twitter users as your friends, the messages they write will appear on your home page as well. Other than that you can follow people (basically that is like a non-reciprocal friend or something). You can send and receive updates to and from twitter over the web, SMS and Jabber/GoogleTalk.

Soon it will also be able to send messages to individual users and that opens quite some potential. Nik Cubrilovic:

With this new functionality we can expect to soon see a number of services similar to those you can find at other SMS services such as Mozes. Services like weather (d weather 94027), news (d news headlines), search (d google nik) and much more.

The advantage that Twitter has is that it is a generic communications platform with social networking components. It can be accessed with SMS, Instant Messaging, the website itself and a plethora of applications that have already been built to read/write to Twitter. For potential service providers, Twitter has a rapidly growing base of users who originally signed up as a way to communicate with ‘real’ friends. These users have already registered their email addresses (for email in/out), mobile phones (for SMS in/out) and IM handles (for read/write via IM).

This idea maybe has too much potential for one company to run the game, Twitter already is very slow as it is. Therefore people such as kosso and Dave Winer wonder if we shouldn’t create an open source twitter and standardize the APIs and let different Twitter “clones” interact with each other. Personally I would say: yes, we should standardize some kind of API, but I’m not sure if an open source twitter would be necessary. It would be kind of interesting to see what kind of companies would pop up implementing their own twitter-like services, that hopefully will be able to interact with other such services through the standard interface.

I spent much of the day thinking about Twitter and its potential and I do believe it’s huge. I have quite some ideas on improving this whole twitter thing and stuff you can do with it. I might just try out something myself, will have to see. Once again, interesting times!

Incidentally: my Twitter page.