Nice Try, App.net
While I’m sure I get more than $50 of value out of Twitter, and I’d be willing to part with the money to have the value, I wouldn’t pay that to Twitter (or App.net), because it would no longer be Twitter, the thing. It would only have the other people who are willing to pay, and so it would no longer provide me the value I get today, since so many interesting accounts would not exist.
Things only reach the level of “everyone must have it” for two reasons:
- Said thing provides an unarguably valuable resource, such as the Internet.
- Said thing is free.
Twitter is cool, and I learn new things every day because of it, but it’s not nearly as important as the Internet itself. So people won’t pay for it. That means plenty of people who might have something share, wouldn’t hand over the $50 to share it, and Twitter becomes even less valuable.
An Open Standard?
The only thing I can see possibly beating Twitter at this point, is to turn these small messages into an open standard, like XMPP or RSS. I think Dave Winer was on to something there. A form of RSS with 140 character maximums, and following people would behind the scenes just be subscribing to their RSS feed. You could host your own feed, or sites could exist like Twitter, where ads are shown on the side, and provide free hosting for the masses.
This way, it would be decentralized, and we’d have the tyrant’s head on a stake.
Update : As some have pointed out, there is an open standard for this stuff: OStatus. So then I’d wonder if App.net will use it, and if not, why the heck not?