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Nokia World 2008: Nokia Messaging

Pownce is dead. So what. Micromessaging has always been about the next phase beyond email, and oh so not about competition between micromessaging vendors. Twitter is the Kleenex of the space and has survived its most difficult phase. There is no competition for Twitter, not even close.

FriendFeed is the reason Twitter has won. It’s the toolkit for providing innovation around Twitter. It has always been the reason why micromessaging could be taken to the next level, to absorb and extend email. FriendFeed is the most important third party app to emerge in the platform space Twitter created to garner its dominant market share. There is no competition for FriendFeed, not even close.

Facebook is not competition for FriendFeed because the only way to kill FriendFeed is to kill Twitter, and there is no competition for Twitter. Where Twitter gets dangerous for Facebook is if its Follow cloud and restored Track discovery engine prove more efficient at modeling social graph data in realtime. This is why FriendFeed’s realtime expansion is so dangerous to Facebook, because it extends Twitter at no cost to Twitter by harvesting the most active portion of Twitter’s economy.

If FriendFeed builds a high value cloud of realtime users while leveraging Twitter’s Track cloud for scale, the combined entity captures more and more of the high value customers in the information space. If the percentage of high value realtime messages reaches parity with email, the increased efficiency of providing strategic information based on the social cloud and its personalized filtering will encourage email vendors to aggregate and rank email alongside micromessages. In effect, the combination of Track and dynamic follow mechanisms already does this.

Direct messages subsume point to point email. Collaboration threads have always been handled poorly in email systems; CCs and BCCs distort and disrupt top down hierarchies, and flatter organizations are overwhelmed with aggressive copying and information hoarding that begins to look like the rest of what’s left: spam. Micromessaging via the supple architecture of Follow/Track affinity transports sidesteps those problems and produces much greater signal to noise by harnessing the social filter.

Pownce was DOA because it didn’t enter the market at the only point where it could compete: against a FriendFeed that hadn’t yet begun to morph. Once FriendFeed flipped the realtime switch, the battle was over. It’s still possible to attempt to compete with FriendFeed, but a better version of FriendFeed inevitably extends Twitter and therefore consolidates FriendFeed’s value as an after effect. Why invest in incremental improvements when it’s easier to just wait until FriendFeed adds those features?

If FriendFeed is a parasite service of Twitter, then the only conceivable entry point now is as a parasite service of FriendFeed. What would that entail? It would have to be a service that thrived on being absorbed as it seeded new functionality into the expanding messaging subsystem. Luckily, there is a lot of room for growth, since micromessaging will move into the richer data types of the media transformation once it’s eaten email. That should make Amazon and Ebay more than a little nervous. If Twitter and FriendFeed capture microtransactions at the very moment digital media wins, they effectively control the set top box. There is not competition for that, not even close.

  • someone

    Great article, Steve. Now please make the following minor edits to the TechCrunch website:

    Enterprise => Twitter
    TechCrunchIT => Ravings of a Madman

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  • Mahesh CR

    Excellent analysis. I specifically love the point “micromessaging will move into the richer data types of the media transformation once it’s eaten email ”

    @someone – it is the ravings of madmen that moves society forward..the dreamer has his place..however outrageous the dreams.

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  • friendstarved

    Friendfeed is the Well of web 2.0. Used by very very small community.

    Besides R&D, their PR budget far exceeds all the little startups out there. I mean they effectively bought all the ‘objective’ digerati voice available in little pond called Silicon Valley. Starting from that Scobleed guy.

    You guys can use any other startup out there but then you will have to be objective and look outside the pond. And that requires hard work.

  • Jason Kolb

    You talk about high value customers, but where is the value? Are Twitter and FriendFeed doing anything besides burning through VC cash?

    If these companies fail to find a way to produce cash, isn’t this much ado about nothing?

  • Rob Blatt

    Okay so here’s statement one: micromessaging will move into the richer data types of the media transformation once it’s eaten email

    So what you’re saying is that Pownce was ahead of its time? Because here’s the description of Pownce’s service according to CrunchBase.

    “Pownce is a way to send stuff to your friends. Users can send music, photos, messages, links, events, and other file of up to 100mb to 250mb for pro users”

    @jasonkolb You are 100% right that all these companies are doing is burning through cash. If they can’t find a way to make money, they aren’t in business. They have an expensive hobby.

  • Karoli

    Comments on Steve’s posts always make me smile.

    To the doubters, particularly @someone: I wonder if you sneered at email for enterprise application, too?

  • ghunda

    There is no competition for a zero revenue service. The part where you say, “so what” goes here.

  • michae arrington

    great article.

  • Richard

    Never mind the doubters, Steve. You’re on to something BIG.

  • francine hardaway

    You are on to something big, but one of the commenters is right that the audience is still very small and needs to grow. I think the real time aspect of it is what will make it grow. Friendfeed would grow faster if its mobile/iPhone app were real time.

    Facebook isn’t real time and never will be. All the other aggregators are concentrated on the aggregation and not the conversation.

    And for the guys above who talk about revenue models? Facebook doesn’t have one either, really. Ads on Facebook don’t work.

  • Michael Foord

    Direct messaging with a 140chars limit and a sucky client subsumes email… I want some of what you’re smoking. :-)

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