Phil posted today “Is twitter a serious business tool or just a complete waste of time?”. I dropped him a comment but in writing it, I came to a realisation that I felt deserved it's own post here.
twitter is the most successful micro-blogging platform in town but it still only serves a niche community of hip, internet things who love whatever is new. Pownce and Jaiku are the closest competition but the problem is critical mass, if I'm using twitter do I want to use pownce to interact with friends you follow there and jaiku for another set? No.
Very few people actually read this blog ( steady, there's more to this sentence ;) ) from the website, most read through an RSS/ATOM reader of some kind. They aggregate the feeds from a number of different sources into one easily consumable window on the blogging world. This is why blogging has become so damn successful, because it gives the reader control of how they consume.
In the micro-blogging world I need to visit multiple websites or download lots of clients to keep up to date with each network, which just isn't practical.
If all networks were to introduce a standard syndication methodology, something more suited to live messaging and the Internet like XMPP then clients could take feeds from all the sites that I like to track in one easily consumed form.
If I particularly liked Pownce's file sharing then I could use that through it's desktop client but it wouldn't preclude me from keeping up to date with all my other networks in an easily digestible form. Further if I liked the russian roulette that is twitter's up-time I could stick with that as my micro-blogging platform.
The problem is all these services want to attract audiences and keep them so they can advertise to them or whatever the business model based on subscriber numbers is, so they think they need a closed shop. However, if they don't grow the micro-blogging market, they won't grow themselves. Good ol' Catch-22.
So I ask you, micro-blogging platforms of the world unite, enable syndication and make micro-blogging as relevant and useful as blogging. Then you can concentrate on providing the best platform for your niche. For if you do there might just be a significant market to aim at.