May 1st 2011 will go down as one of the biggest news days of the year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle this was Twitter’s CNN moment.
Just as the television news network live-casted the first Gulf War to every cabled-up living-room so, at the very second Keith Urbahn hit Tweet and let slip news of OBL’s death, the world’s favourite micro-blogging service became the de facto place to break stories.
Twitter is a powerful medium for broadcasting, curating and consuming news; a vanity mirror for all kinds of celebrity; a sounding-board for desperately earnest marketers and consultants; a search and discovery tool for stalkers; an obvious measure of influence; and arguably, a catalyst for social change (although not always the good kind). In brief: it’s important.
Some say Twitter has become a Utility. I say no it hasn’t, micro-blogging has become a Utility, Twitter is a popular and successful service example. Sina Weibo is another.
As May 1st wrapped around to May 2nd @twitterglobalpr was keen to tell us that usage had peaked at an all time high of 5,000+ tweets per second during Obama’s televised announcement of Bin Laden’s death. If that sounds like busy to you, think again. How busy does a mobile network Short Message Service Centre get on any New Year’s Eve? Or Diwali? Or Eid? I can guarantee you that the magnitudes of messaging are much greater and the service more robust.
I’ll gladly join Scoble and offer my congratulations to Twitter for keeping up, but I come from a telco world where services must be available to the five nines (99.999%) twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Staying up doesn’t impress me much – that’s a baseline. You can say what you like about the Scobleizer but surely he’s a tool better used to trumpet your cool new whatever than he is a notifier of basic competence.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of micro-blogging and I use Twitter a lot, but it’s a free service and you know, it really does feel like one. An internet age ago Eqentia suggested that Twitter go Freemium to alleviate its growing pains. I agree, as is so often the case ‘free’ is being used as a get out of jail card for a shockingly poor standard of care.
In the absence of anything to sell Twitter has not bought my loyalty with its grace and favour, just my frustration. So like a User I’ll use it while it suits me, if I were a Customer we’d be in a far more valuable relationship.
Until that happy marriage comes to be my prospective partner is just another big fat replaceable pipe.
Image: Flandrum Hill
Edit: Thanks for the handful of emails, yes, the old title of this post (‘None more busy than Twitter’) was indeed grammatically incorrect. This was one of those obscure in-jokes that failed to pay off (a bit like this blog really). Amended accordingly.