Blog Post

Who's Worried About Facebook? Not Twitter

nullOn Friday, Facebook released a series of upgrades to its platform, allowing developers access to many core functionalities, such as Facebook Video and Notes, and giving them the ability to integrate them into their applications. But it was the opening up of a Status API that got the most attention. Given that Twitter had rightfully rejected a $500 million offer from Facebook, it’s been perceived as a Twitter-killer. VentureBeat did a good job of explaining why the Facebook vs. Twitter meme was a case of severe hyperbole.

In reality the decision to give broader access to its status application programming interface (API) is a recognition by Facebook that status and presence are core to its future as a real-time web company. Facebook developers I spoke with explained that, by allowing third-party developers access to Status, Facebook is hoping to compete with Twitter, which has slowly started to steal developer mindshare away from other platforms. When it comes to the Internet, real time web is obviously the next logical step. Status and presence are key components of this future, and it is good to see Facebook to recognize this and openup its platform in a more meaningful way. But as TechCrunch points out, “status” has a different meaning on Facebook and Twitter. The guys at Twitter say they’re not too worried about Facebook’s moves. In response to my emailed query, Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, wrote:

It seems like great news for developers. No doubt we’ll soon see some very cool applications providing more ways for friends to share status, links, notes, and videos. Lots of folks are saying “hello” to Twitter every day. There is overlap in some aspects of our services but there is also plenty of room for Twitter to grow, evolve, and become relevant to many more lives around the world.

I totally agree. While the company still struggles with its identity (a service provider or a platform?), the Twitter API has some serious developer mindshare. On an almost daily basis I am contacted by developers who are doing interesting things with it (though admittedly the API has some serious challenges).

Brendan Gahan, my research assistant, points out on his blog that “with Open Social, Twitter, Android and iPhone, Facebook has more competition for developers than ever before. If they want the platform to survive, they’ve got to keep developers happy, as opposed to crushing their spirits and shrinking their profits.”

Status API is part of that move — killing Twitter will have to wait for a while!

20 Responses to “Who's Worried About Facebook? Not Twitter”

  1. YUvamani

    Twitter and Facebook serve different needs. Facebook has fine(r) grained privacy controls which makes me more confident about putting say semi private/ slightly sensitive information. (Yeah yeah , I know the privacy of facebook is illusory, but it is better than complete public information)

    Twitter is really a shout box to broadcast information, more like a blog. If I had an opinion about a movie, I would like the world to know ! even the @communication is info which is meant to be public. If I wanted to give my opinion on something I would like to put it in a place where it has an audience which by virtue of it being public is Twitter.

    Which is why I use twitter to update facebook. Information I have in twitter can go to facebook. The other direction is not so kosher …

    In the end facebook and twitter have different kinds of information. Thus there is good reason for twitter not to be afraid .. StockTwits is better served by twitter and not facebook status updates (If my status contained information about stocks, I would be considered a dork)

  2. Perhaps the best example of the different roles of Twitter and FB: one of the hottest apps for BlackBerry these days involves the beta trials of SocialScope (only on BlackBerry – where a user can follow both Twitter and Facebook activity concurrently. It’s getting lots of conversations over in Twitterville while they work through scalability and integration issues (for instance, Twitpic integration presents a challenge0>

    (And, having just attended a Toronto event about the BlackBerry Developer Community last week, attended by over 250 developers, RIM/BlackBerry is also seriously into that competition for developers referenced by Brendan.)

  3. I agree that FB and Twitter are not yet on collision course and they are serve users differently. Neither satisfy me as I am looking for the universal presence status ‘keeper’ that is far more universal, with an supplicant for all sorts of devices and environments and support sub-services like geo-locate-ability.

  4. adamjackson

    Great post Om. Twitter certainly has a long way to go and we’ve just begun seeing the mainstream adoption of the service. It’s clear that the Twitter folks weren’t expecting the rush of new users in the past year but now that they’ve fixed the stability issues, it’s time to focus on strengthening and thanking the developer community with incentives and improved APIs.

    Then Twitter can focus on making money and I feel it should be done in that order.