Third-party Twitter clients (that is, replacements for Twitter's site and official apps) had little impact on Twitter's success. It's a story that sounds good, but I don't see any evidence for it. Those are the only developers that are materially hurt by Twitter's new policies.
"They spend the 6 months they could have used learning to code, trying to find a cofounder instead."
Someone who thinks they might want to start a software business in the future should definitely learn how to program. Someone who's starting a software business right now should pay someone else in dollars or equity to get it done. It takes more than six months to become a competent programmer, let alone become familiar with the tools and practices needed to build a modern web application or mobile app. This just isn't very good advice at all.
Unless you have piles of money or friends in high places, learning some programming is a great place to start if you want to build a tech startup and aren't already a developer. It isn't the be-all end-all, but I'd definitely agree that spending 6 months educating yourself and getting something created, even if it's sloppy, is better use of time than cruising around meetups and networking events trying to find someone to implement your idea for you. Ditto for hiring contractors who you can afford and won't leave you with a lemon when you have no basis for judging whether someone knows wtf they're talking about.
- 500 million accounts.
- 1% conversion (they could 2% or higher)
- 5 million conversions
Wooo hoo. $250 million. Ok, not a billion but not a bad start, all without burning developers or free users.
Charge businesses for business level accounts and analytics and you could get another $250M.
Twitter's problem isn't just a "Now" problem it's a management team that's following Facebook on their path to ad failure.
Watching Twitter and app.net over the next couple of years should be fascinating. Twitter can't start charging, but app.net is starting there. If they get 1% of Twitter's population, they are a huge success. And Twitter just gifted them a lot of potential developers.
They could easily start charging for additional services as the comment above suggessted - if they make it a 'Pro' plan and leave normal accounts alone, there's no incentive at all for people to leave, and yet they make money from their most active/interested users. There are plenty of extras they could offer on top of the basic service for a charge.
That goes double for business accounts - I'm sure most businesses would pay some small subscription for verification, syndication, the chance to advertise (in clearly separated areas) and other features now it has critical mass.
That's a much better plan than polluting all of the users' streams with advertising they don't want a la FaceBook, which will lead to a mass exodus. Adding advertising to the users' streams is absolutely the worst thing Twitter can do, and yet it seems they're actively working towards that with their recent changes.
Although I wouldn't be surprised if the knuckleheads at Twitter botched it.
Twitter and Facebook could learn a lot from the Free-to-Play video game market. Service is free, being "special" costs money.
I'm very curious to see where it goes from here, but was mostly intrigued by the parallel I see to small startups. Thanks for the comment :)
Perhaps there is some disruptive thing Twitter could do that will eventually disrupt their current advertising model and be a true billion dollar business. It's possible they don't see it (or less likely, there is NO path for them to get where they need to be) and so they're letting it be known that they're planning on extracting increasing rents from their current income streams.
Innovator's Solution is probably the better book (same ideas expressed, but more in-depth thinking on how to fix it inside your company by Christensen).
It's a must-read by startups because it puts you in the right mind-set of why your crappy little MVP can possibly disrupt powerful incumbents.
Thanks for your article - I've been enjoying your posts!
Also, I wonder if this strategy makes a lot more sense if viewed through the lens of them being acquired in the next few years.
Who goes from not knowing how to code to being a decent to good coder in 6 months? Maybe I'm just not that smart, but it took me many years to get to that level. Learn a few basics, hit a plateau, light-bulb is triggered on some concept accelerating your growth, hit another plateau, and on and on like that.
Like not 6 months worth, but on the order of a for dummies book. The fact that someone doesn't do this shows me they lack the desire and courage to achieve their vision.
Not sure how I'd tie it into Twitter, but my 2 cents.