Odeo released a new service today called Twttr, which is a sort of “group send” SMS application. Each person controls their own network of friends. When any of them send a text message to “40404,” all of his or her friends see the message via sms. This launched officially today, and a few select insiders were playing with the service at the Valleyschwag party in San Francisco last night.
People are using it to send messages like “Cleaning my apartment” and “Hungry”. You can also add friends via text message, nudge friends, etc. It really a social network around text messaging – and is very similar to another service called Dodgeball.
Users can also post and view messages on the Twttr website, turn off text messages from certain people, turn off messages altogether, etc. There is also a status widget available that can be placed on a website.
I like the service although I was not able to sign up for it myself (someone added me at the same time I tried to register directly, the result was lockout of my phone number). I’ve been playing around with someone else’s account until I can figure out how to get my number sorted out.
There is also a privacy issue with Twttr. Every user has a public page that shows all of their messages. Messages from that person’s extended network are also public. I imagine most users are not going to want to have all of their Twttr messages published on a public website.
If this was a new startup, a one or two person shop, I’d give it a thumbs up for innovation and good execution on a simple but viral idea.
But the fact that this is coming from Odeo makes me wonder – what is this company doing to make their core offering compelling? How do their shareholders feel about side projects like Twttr when their primary product line is, besides the excellent design, a total snoozer?