Making sense of the space between Twitter and Friendfeed
Twitter and Friendfeed: two social micro-blogging platforms which people continue to compare and contrast, like both locked in a duel to death with one another. Recently, Dave Winer wrote a piece on the two platforms, likening them to the early computing platforms of Macs versus PCs. Dave suggests that Twitter is like the Mac platform: easy to use and adopt, but not as open or capable as a “PC” platform.
While I see the validity of this comparison, I’m forced to reflect on current trends in personal computing. While Windows might be a very open platform (arguably more open than OS X), the ease-of-use and attractive simplicity of Macs is winning over consumers every day. Similarly, though the iPhone has a rather closed GUI and platform, it is possibly the most popular smartphone on the market, even over competitors offering Windows or Linux-based operating systems boasting “open” operating systems.
So if Twitter is like Macs and FriendFeed is like PCs, it would be reasonable to assume that, while FriendFeed might retain a user base of hardcore socialites that prefer more functionality, it will never achieve the popularity of Twitter, even if Twitter is limited. It might not be fair or reasonable, but dems the breaks.
Dave also suggests that there might be a market for a platform positioned nicely between Twitter and Friendfeed…a platform that could harness the power of Friendfeed while leveraging the simplicity and attractiveness of Twitter. While that might be true, I doubt that any such development will gather a big following. Just like in the PC world where there’s Windows, OS X, and everything between (Linux), any alternative will have a hard time succeeding at the levels of either two big competitors. It is more likely that Twitter and Friendfeed will each move towards each other as they try to replicate the benefits of the other.
I don’t think Twitter users need to force themselves to learn the intricacies of FriendFeed out of principle for having more functionality; nor should FriendFeed users necessarily join the enemy by sacrificing the usability they enjoy. The great thing about the web is that there is always someone designing an application or platform that will meet your needs. Like what you like, try new things, and don’t apologize for your choices.