On Apr 10, 7:04 pm, zn...@comcast.net wrote:
> I think we've pretty much exhausted the holes and dirt metaphor, and I'd like 
> to propose a different one. A business is defined by the answer(s) to the 
> question, "Who is going to sell what to whom?" So, what are the needs of the 
> Twitter "customer base?"

Looking for needs in the Twitter "customer base" may not (in fact,
likely doesn't) lead to product ideation that is safe from Twitter
"predation" -- yes, I use a heavily loaded term (predation), but do
not mean it in any negative way at all. If one looks for needs in the
Twitter customer base, solutions should clearly be understood as being
in the realm of what Twitter will asses and potentially directly
provide. After all, definitionally these have been called Twitter's
customer base.

The (relative) newness of Twitter-type functionality coupled with the
(relative) openness of the API has brought many devs into the
community. It is perhaps fun or perhaps intellectually interesting to
build Twitter-centric "inward facing" apps, but I pose the question of
whether these are providing the kind of services that are
intrinsically able to support a business?  If not, these are apps that
one can't expect to monetize, except perhaps indirectly (e.g. ads
based on traffic to a Web site). --> If Twitter is having a long road
to revenue why should it be any different for a Twitter "hole
filler" ?

An alternative is to look for needs in a customer segment that isn't
directly a Twitter segment, but one in which the use of Twitter
enables functionality that serves that segment with a product/service
that is better than what that customer segment presently has available
(if there even is any equivalent offering). This, I believe, is what
Jesse Stay was imploring in his post.

This is not to say that there isn't room for Twitter client apps that
provide access to the Twitter tweet stream -- if-and-only-if done in
some compellingly unique way(s). But the mere existence of any such
"tool" does not imply that it is a monetizable tool. Adoption,
monetization, and resistance to predation require that a tool have a
layer of value-add that is not directly (nor easily) emulated.

I propose that far too many devs in the Twitter community have labored
to build Twitter-centric services but haven't abided by the precepts
the "fast startup" movement. In particular, put out a MVP (Minimally
Viable Product) early, and get customer feedback especially against
the question: will anyone pay? --- at least if one is not expecting to
provide their tool or service long-term without revenue. To do that
requires very deep resources, of the likes that Twitter has, and few
if any of us independent devs can sustain in that context.

In my mind, don't think of Twitter now having Tweetie as locking up,
say, the iPhone market (and by extension - please don't be surprised -
the iPad market), but rather this is a wake-up call to envision a
product for the iPhone/iPad/Android/xxx that gives some customer
segment an ability it presently does not have, a service which may use
Twitter but isn't *about* Twitter. Such will be market-spaces that
Twitter likely won't pursue, and even if they did, market dominance
can be retained by an independent dev because the product isn't about
Twitter, but about the needs of that market segment. For example: help
some group, say doctors in a practice, or delivery people, or in-field
service technicians, better coordinate using real-time messaging --
don't consider this "Twitter" even though Twitter may be an (or even
be "the") underlying enabling technology. This, I suggest, is what
Fred Wilson was writing about.

In summary, my exhortation here, in advance of Chirp, is: it's about
time for the community to become "outward facing" rather than "inward
facing."

My $0.02. Hope it's helpful. No offense meant to anyone.

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