Dave Winer is using Twitter of all things to point to the FriendFeed discussion about bolting from the limping real time service. Rafe Needleman is the locus for today’s grumbling, though Twitter’s @Replies outage fuels the faithful’s concerns on Twhirl and other alternative clients.
Summize continues to function as a workaround for @replies by capturing twittername citations via keywords, much like Twitter’s still-down Track functionality. As we gleaned from incoming Twitter engineer John Adams, the cavalry is on the way with reinforcements that will eventually restore IM and track. So what’s the real reason for the paranoia about Twitter’s survivability?
Winer’s on record as doubting Twitter’s ability to win with a proprietary model, no matter that revenue is not a current concern. But historically the kind of momentum user aggregation play Google has leveraged seems hard to undermine with the kind of community attack that brought Hailstorm down. How Twitter navigates the shoals of API licensing will eventually prove determinant, but not against smaller players with different strategies for user acquisition. FriendFeed may have gathered a third of Twitter users, but how do switcher fans figure out how to acquire the users only Summize or Track uncover from the other two thirds of Twitter’s cloud?
It all comes down to the balance between flow and random discoverability. FriendFeed can continue to prosper in relative terms, but even hardcore switchers like Dave Slusher require roundtripping back to the mother ship to retain a window into the larger hive. When the smoke and the outages clear, my bet remains that Twitter is in the driver’s seat, and will face challenges not from the community but from the enterprise players who see the emergence of a neutral backbone that can use message bus security and infrastructure to scale out. FriendFeed would do well to cooperatively align with Twitter and use its activist community to keep Twitter in line as real time flow returns.