FriendFeed kill Twitter? Not going to happen

by Mathew on May 24, 2008 · 15 comments

So Duncan Riley — formerly of TechCrunch — has a post up at his new site Inquisitr about how it’s time for FriendFeed to kill Twitter. I have nothing against Duncan, but every time I see a headline like that on a blog post I almost instinctively discount whatever appears in the post. Why? Because those kinds of “X is going to kill X” headlines are almost always Techmeme bait or Digg bait. It’s like those headlines in the business section of the newspaper that talk about the stock market “plummeting” or companies “hemorrhaging” red ink. Hyperbole sells.

The probability of FriendFeed “killing” Twitter is roughly zero. And not just because FriendFeed doesn’t have the scale yet to mount an assault. The two services are also a lot more complimentary than they are competitive, as more than one person commenting on this topic (many of them on FriendFeed) has mentioned. FriendFeed is an aggregator, and Twitter is not. Could FriendFeed add messaging? Sure it could. But it still wouldn’t kill Twitter. Lots of people thought that Twitter would help to kill Facebook (or vice versa), and Facebook was supposed to kill MySpace, and MySpace was allegedly going to kill blogs. And so on.

Obviously, some services thrive and others don’t — Friendster being a good example (although even it has come back from the dead to some extent). But that’s rarely because some other service “kills” them. It’s usually because they fail to keep up with what their customers want, or fail to adapt to some new technology, or run out of money. Twitter’s biggest problem isn’t FriendFeed, it’s keeping the service running properly so that people don’t get irritated enough by all the downtime and stop using it. And even that is a pretty high hurdle: for all the bitching about Twitter being down, it still seems to be pretty popular. And FriendFeed has its own issues to worry about, some would argue.

Update:

For bonus points (or maybe the booby prize), check out another of Steve Gillmor’s classic, incomprehensible rants on the topic over at TechCrunch.

  • http://thomashawk.com thomashawk

    FriendFeed is very much a communications platform. At least that's how I'm using it. It's replaced Twitter for me 1000%.

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  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman

    Who was it at mesh who in a keynote or panel said “The Death of Everything” about the hyperbole of the web? ;)

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  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    I've written my own post on FriendFeed's potential as an aggregator, not just for RSS feeds, but for comments as well (although Disqus is probably better than FriendFeed for that purpose). The thing that would tip Twitter's audience towards using FriendFeed exclusively for microblogging is, of course, Twitter's audience leaving Twitter for FriendFeed. It's a bit of a catch-22 and the key would be having enough of a critical mass abandoning Twitter for enough people thinking that it's time to move.

    However: FriendFeed doesn't have the wealth of 3rd party apps that Twitter has (at least not yet). Also, FriendFeed might seem too big and unwieldy compared to the dead simple interface of Twitter, especially for people who don't blog or otherwise use other forms of social media.

    Still, I wouldn't rule out a mass exodus of the Twitter team doesn't improve stability – I don't think people will put up with it forever. Some bigger name bloggers, i.e. Scobel and now Steve Rubel, are expanding FriendFeed's usage for conversations. Plus there's the new Rooms functionality, which adds the Chat Room kind of functionality which Twitter sort of mimics, but not very well.

    I doubt Twitter will die, especially with the new funding, but they can't afford to rest either.

  • calvin pearson

    this is beyond stupid. “kill” twitter? he has GOT to be kidding, right?

    if people are fed up with twitter's down time problems, then, obivously, they will move elsewhere. but there's no room here for such infantile thinking. i can't believe i'm even wasting my time commenting on such an intellectually vapid post. but for some reason, people are linking to it and believe it's worthy of debate.

    let's dispense with these sorts of verbal jihads. there are more interesting & important topics of discussion

  • http://www.inqk.net Michael Camilleri

    Nooo! You fell for his link-bait!

  • http://jerhoyet.com Jeremiah Hoyet

    Do you think if FriendFeed had a simpler interface and added a “Twitter-like” feature, it could take a chunk of Twitter's audience?

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  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I think if FriendFeed added a chat-style feature, it might be able to
    take a certain subsection of Twitter's user base away — but I still
    think there are benefits to Twitter as a standalone app, and the
    primary one is that it only does one thing. FriendFeed is about
    comments on links and other content, but Twitter is just about short
    messages and IM-style chat.

  • http://catlaine.tumblr.com Cat Laine

    Yeah, I personally think a more apt headline is “Twitter kills self, FriendFeed benefits”.

  • http://www.bloggersblog.com bloggersblog

    As usual Mathew makes some great points in his post. I think FriendFeed has some unique qualities but it is also endanger of being something people use primarily when Twitter is down. If Twitter totally drops the ball then maybe FriendFeed or another service will benefit but so far Twitter has managed to stay alive enough to continue growing. The biggest Twitter rival is probably Jaiku – if Google ever lets it compete.

  • http://catlaine.tumblr.com Cat Laine

    Yeah, I personally think a more apt headline is “Twitter kills self, FriendFeed benefits”.

  • http://www.bloggersblog.com bloggersblog

    As usual Mathew makes some great points in his post. I think FriendFeed has some unique qualities but it is also endanger of being something people use primarily when Twitter is down. If Twitter totally drops the ball then maybe FriendFeed or another service will benefit but so far Twitter has managed to stay alive enough to continue growing. The biggest Twitter rival is probably Jaiku – if Google ever lets it compete.

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