I’m going to dub this Part 2 of my Twitter Love/Hate fest – this should be my last installment for awhile on this topic, I hope. In reality, I really love Twitter. I have a good network on Twitter and frankly, I wouldn’t have met many of you if it weren’t for Twitter. Twitter, in many ways, has changed my career. For that reason I really don’t want to see it fail. It is perhaps this reason that I am so critical of it at times – it’s my hope that someone at Twitter can read these and at least see what the world is really thinking, hoping, and wishing at a given point in time about how their service is performing and being perceived.
Twitter is still continuing to fail developers!
It’s examples like the one I learned about recently where the service, Gridjit, was put offline entirely because of a rash decision on Twitter’s part to remove a feature from Twitter’s API with little to no notice for the developers to respond. In the time Gridjit was down, they have since added FriendFeed support, and I’m willing to bet they have other strategies that don’t include Twitter. Now that Twitter has re-enabled that feature, they are now back up and running, but Gridjit is just another example of the frustration that is occurring amongst developers in the Twitter development community.
Just today, for example, I noticed Twhirl was no longer working with @replies. I remember seeing posts on the Twitter blog recently stating that the @replies tab would be removed, but I remember no notice to developers stating that the features that enable this on clients like Twhirl would be disabled in the API (they did let us know the API was down today though – still no notice it would be down when they took down the replies tab, and nothing to the developer mailing list that I’m aware of).
Twitter tries, but not quite enough
I mentioned last week that Twitter was hiring on their site, but it just wasn’t enough because I think the problems they have exist at the management level. True, they even hired 3 new individuals recently, but they are developers used to being managed, not managing large groups of other developers. Twitter really needs one or two individuals at the top that have true Enterprise-level experience managing these types of IT issues, and very large groups of developers. Remember, Twitter isn’t just the developers that work for Twitter, but the vast group of developers that are also writing applications for their API. The individual in charge of development and IT efforts at Twitter has to have strong experience in managing very large development teams, and working with a very large user-base, in which any change to any part of the system could effect. Twitter needs a staging environment in place, and a system of testing every single change that goes into place before it actually goes out live into the production environment.
They are showing some promise though!
Just this week Twitter announced the inclusion of 2 new investment partners in their list of investors. One of those, Jeff Bezos, does have experience managing the types of issues and large development audiences that Twitter lacks. This is a huge move for Twitter, and long overdue! Jeff will bring Amazon’s firm experience in scalable web environments, and I hope, enable Twitter to enter the cloud more than they currently are, and reduce the tough scaling issues they are experiencing right now.
You can bet you’ll see Twitter begin adopting Amazon’s AWS Cloud services here soon now that Bezos is on board. Amazon has the capability to scale almost instantly as traffic spikes hit, and they seem to be doing it better than any other right now. Twitter really needs this service!
Why I think they’ll still survive, no matter how many developers leave
Twitter is a Marketer’s Paradise. Twitter is full of content about the every-day life of millions of individuals and their friends, who they connect and communicate with, and what their frustrations and interests are. Businesses are beginning to embrace this and use services such as Summize to track information about their Brand, their image, and even their competitors that they could never track before. Businesses can finally track real people instead of just “visitors”.
This is powerful and valuable information to many businesses out there. Because of this it doesn’t matter how many times Twitter goes down or how many developers stay or go from Twitter. So long as users still have networks on Twitter and the Twitter user-base continues to rise as it appears to still be doing, businesses like H&R Block and Comcast and even NASA will still flock to Twitter as a valuable tool in gathering data about their customers and fans. These businesses have it in their best interest to see Twitter succeed, and you better bet they’ll do their best to help out in that effort. Twitter isn’t going anywhere my friends, and I still haven’t retracted from that statement.