For the past two weeks or so I’ve focused the majority of my “short messaging/blogging” from Twitter to a new service called FriendFeed. FriendFeed is very similar in relation to twitter in that both systems are designed to help you share quick messages.
It’s become clear to me over these two weeks that the incumbent Twitter is in very serious risk of having their milkshake drunk by shinny new FriendFeed. I’ve got about 1/3rd of my Twitter audience on FriendFeed already, others have half.
Now, most folks will say that the switch is because Twitter has been almost unusable for the past couple of weeks, either because the service is completely down, or even worse partially down. I say even worse because being able to broadcast on Twitter but not see replies back is just disastrous. You put information out into the world and then don’t know what happens from there. Twitter has fixed this problem since, but as any Twitter user can tell you, when you need Twitter work you frequently are faced with the fail whale.
Twitter’s down time is a superficial issue when it comes to the competition from FriendFeed. Everyone’s been dealing with the downtime, and sure the downtime will get people to dip their toe into the FriendFeed pond, but the reason folks are going to stay in FriendFeed’s pond, and perhaps forget about Twitter is the features.
Now, FriendFeed has been flawless since inception in terms of downtime and that’s great. However, Twitter doesn’t have some major, and basic, features that FriedFeed does have. The most important are:
- Easy to read replies
- Replies that can be any length
- The ability to post media–photos and videos–to your feed
Twitter needs to not only get their act together in terms of up time, they have to get some features out the door. If Twitter can’t get #1, 2, and 4 together they are really going to lose their business.
The comment systems is so fast and easy that it’s perfect. So perfect that folks use it. The more they use it, the more you will not want to leave FriendFeed. (see image on the right).
Photos and videos are key for any service, and the fact that Twitter doesn’t have them is just really a problem. If I have a YouTube video I want to share with my friends am I going to post it to twitter where it will get no replies, or am I going to post it to FF where I’ll get a dozen? Fairly easy choice, same thing with photos (see image on the right).
Twitter can, of course, come back from this. They’re just in the horrible position of not only having to get stable, but to release a bunch of intense, memory hungry features. I don’t envy them.
What does Twitter need to do to save their milkshake?
- Get stable (duh)
- Get ajax-style replies to work–now. This is critical
- Show images and videos in tweet stream (when linked to)
- Increase the size of replies (and forget about SMS as much).
Please answer the following on your blog:
- What do you think Twitter should do to fight off FriendFeed? Can they?
- Is it too late for Twitter to fend off FF?
- What can we learn from FriendFeed’s drinking of Twitter’s milkshake?
- Does Twitter have any advantage over FF at this point?
- What are the killer features on FF in your mind?