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