Dave Winer has a post up called Twitter. Needs. Competition., which is a mantra he’s been reciting for a while now. The thing that Dave and most technology people who talk about Twitter and enter into this discussion miss is that Twitter has had a veritable *ton* of competition since it first launched. It’s just that that competition has all failed to grab onto the masses the way that Twitter has (Facebook is Twitter’s most obvious competition with Facebook in second place). Technologically, Twitter is destroying all its competition for three reasons:
- It’s dead simple—Twittering may be hard to explain to people new to Twitter, but once they do it a few times, they get it.
- Its mobile integration—The SMS text messaging integration of the service brings it nicely to a lot of people who aren’t typically tech people, but who carry around a dumb-phone that supports SMS.
- The API—There are tons of apps that work with Twitter for a reason. Twitter made it easy to do so.
However, the biggest reason that Twitter is dominating is quite simply because it has the audience. This is the thing that lots of people in our industry don’t get: You can have all the features in the universe and be a superior product, but if you don’t have audience you are dead in the water. Every would be Twitter challenger out there that is basically aping Twitter’s features has no chance of challenging Twitter right now simply because of their rampant success in gaining audience. Now if one of those usurpers came along and something disastrous happened to Twitter, like they had a FAIL WHALE up on the homepage for a solid week, there would be hope for one of these challengers, but right now the only services that have a chance of challenging Twitter are other services that already have a huge audience: like Facebook and to a lesser degree FriendFeed.
Until then, the snowball of its own size will keep Twitter growing. If I were Twitter, I would turn my attention squarely to the rising spam on the system though. All that spam, while it is a size of Twitter’s growth and success in one way, is also the largest threat to its future. People will leave platforms because of spam and there is a *lot* of it on Twitter these days.