Sometimes you have ideas for products, services, mobile2.0 wonder sites and don't develop them for a whole host of reasons. Twttr represents one of those ideas we thought about too. So seeing as I once considered making a similar app, I had to take a closer look.
What I like about Twttr: It's group text that works (you can send a one to many message easily) You send the message, everyone in your group receives it. Simple.
What I don't like about Twttr: It only works in America. (In fact, any service that relies heavily on sending messages has a much higher chance of doing well as it's much lower cost, or free there).
OK, so at Kisky Netmedia we had an idea that it would be great if you can set up 'group texting' - you text to the 'group' and everyone gets the SMS. I believe Orange did a trial of a similar concept in the UK, but I don't know exactly what it was other than 'group SMS' was involved in some way. I'm sure a lot of people have thought about it; from independent developers through to the networks. Having made Treasuremytext.com with some success, we looked at extending it, or making complementary products however we decided against developing our 'group SMS' idea for a number of reasons. Reason number 1 was that the model doesn't work here (in Europe) - we pay to send per message. So if I sent a SMS to my group of friends the cost would be 5 pence (10c) to then send that message on to each recipient. Anyway, reason number 2 for not making a group SMS app was that when we really thought hard about it, we didn't actually want to use it. We looked at how many SMS messages we'd ever want to send to more than one person. We used SMS personally; one-to-one. To back this up, we looked at rather a lot of SMS messages (many thousands) on Treasuremytext.com. All are one-to-one communications. These are the things people really want to send, and save.
So will Twttr be a success? Possibly, there are some things they may have got right, but possibly not. OK, OK, I'm sitting in the fence here. Consider though, in a little more detail, some of these areas:
Group SMS vs IM
Honestly, when have you ever sent a message to more than one person? Or if you have, surely that message is in the minority right? Really - have I time to twttr? And if I have time, and want to, won't I find instant messaging more useful?
OK, so they may have got it right with this concept that Twttr-ing is the throwaway nonsense conversation between bored groups of friends - 'young people'. Twttr-ing may fit this one-to-many model on mobile. It may be that the teen market will love to twttr. It's short, simple, they can do it in class. I'm not sure though it seems a little forced. Maybe it's just not for me. I presume I am way outside the target market at 30.
It seems to twttr is to "say what you're up to right now", in which case isn't a web based / IM version perhaps easier to use? Or is Twttr about group text for 'other purposes' and what are they? I feel that the concept of twttr-ing sits slightly uncomfortably on the group SMS functionality.
Teach me to Twttr!
Let's take the example messages on Twttr's website.
"At the orthodontist"
"Eating with fabio"
"Now I could go to bed. Done with the website"
I can tell you that in the early days of marketing Treasuremytext we made up a few. I am not accusing Twttr of such fakery but, I imagine they're 'encouraging' a few 'early adopters' to 'set the tone'. - Teaching people how to Twttr, making sending inane 'I'm putting my make up on whilst watching TV' messages sound cool and interesting.
It's got to be for real life non geeks right? People in the real world who aren't near a computer and internet connection. So currently it's us geeky people taking a look, having a go. How are they going to get real people twttring? OK, so in its favor is that it's viral - you invite your friends to make it useful to you, but will people really want to? Already the reaction from many bloggers is that it is surely annoying to be interrupted by your friends' twttr-ing all day long - but it's not for bloggers right?
It seems mobile / web apps are springing up at an exciting rate. What is slightly annoying however is that due to the ability in the US to send SMS basically as email, (over CDMA networks) North America will have the edge in being able to develop and offer services such as twttr. Over our European GMS networks the price for sending SMS is still high, meaning that even if you have a great idea for an application, it may simply be impossible in Europe yet a totally plausible proposition in the US.
Overall, I'm not a twttrer nor do I want to receive endless updates from any of my friends via SMS, IM or email. But hey, maybe the kids will like it?