It’s happened before, several times now, and it will happen again. We have had Odeo, SlashDot, Kiko and Friendster. A new social networking style site is the darling of the Internet world, the word on the A-listers lips. Then they couldn’t scale, they couldn’t maintain the traffic and interest that they had generated and the people, the users, walk. Whether it’s because of hardware or software issues or just bad business planning is another matter. But the core is they ignored several key business rules for web startups.
Well over the last four days, Twitter has been non functional more than it has been in the past. It’s been constantly loosing tweets, or missing tweets in the feed, or the servers have just been down (those cats seem to be have been a constant problem). This is Twitters longest period of technical trouble. Maybe I’m seeing more of it; having access when the rest of the world is asleep, and a good period for downtime adjustments, but it has been very flaky.
This has lead to a fair number of people, who are new to Twitter to just abandon it really before they got started. This is not good for any startup company. Or as Miles Burke has suggested maybe a name change in jest, is the way to go. The longer term users of Twitter are also starting to suggest that maybe they should be looking for a better alternative (remember people tell that Gen-Y is fickle).
Now we all know it doesn’t take much, a few key groups start to make a move to another service and the migration of Twitter will be on. It seems the only real alternative is Jaiku and frankly it doesn’t at present have the level of secondary support, that Twitter does There are some more clones, but none like Twitter. However that’s all moot if Twitter doesn’t work. And who is to say what the scaling methodology of Jaiku is like anyway.
The really interesting aspect of this is the dynamics of the application loyalty base and the social implications from the twitosphere. People are genuinely hoping that Twitter can get over this problem and succeed. They also enjoying and finding the service useful from a networking and professional information source viewpoint. However there is a personal pain point for every user on the usability issues. Even within my small circle on Twitter, several people have reached this pain point and have just closed up Twitter and walked away. If there was a solid alternative I’m sure some would have considered migration.
The question is can Twitter jump the shark? or will it be consigned to the annals of Internet history? Has Twitter learn for the lessons of the past, Ev Williams seems to think so. What do you think, will Twitter be here in six months or so? Will we be Twittering at WDS07?