It seems like nearly everyone in the tech world is sick of hearing about Twitter so I thought it would be nice to review and provide a status update on some of the other microblogging and micromessaging services that are available. When Twitter launched in 2006 and started receiving some decent attention, copycat microblog startups came out of the woodwork. Fortunately for Twitter, no direct competitors really had the staying power to launch any kind of real threat to the little birdie. Compete’s latest stats show that Twitter’s monthly unique visitors is up by 39% yet many of its direct competitors are dead or barely breathing. In contrast, several Twitter-like services have either been able to differentiate themselves enough or integrate with Twitter effectively to secure some success. I have compiled a list of both the direct and indirect competitors and included a bit of information about it each one. I separated them into groups according to their direction of traffic growth over the last year and added the Compete’s traffic charts as well.
Dead And Soon To Be Gone Websites
Pownce - Kevin Rose’s attempt to create a better Twitter by throwing more features at users. It launched in June of 2007 and was put out of its misery recently. If it wasn’t for Kevin promoting it via Revision3 and Digg this thing probably would have kicked the bucket much sooner.
Rejaw – A micro blogging service with a hint of chat that launched in 2008 but will be closing its doors at the end of this month.
It’s Really Just A Matter Of Time
Secondbrain – This content aggregator and micro blogging / messaging site launched in a celebration of excitement but its traffic has dropped off consistently over the past year. I’m afraid it just a matter of time before we can stick a fork in this one and call it done.
Jaiku – An activity feed aggregator and microblog that permits you to send micro messages to your followers, it’s sort of like FriendFeed meets Twitter but not in a good way. It was founded in February of 2006, acquired by Google in October of 2007 and it’s been on the downward spiral ever since.
Kwippy – A nanoblogging platform and social network that’s integrated into instant messaging that launched in 2007.
Yonkly – A fully customizable white-label microblogging community that allows users to create niche microblogs about anything. Instead of merely asking “what are you doing” you can add any niche message like “what golf tips do you have?”. Yonkly launched in November of 2008.
Bloggino – Lets you build group based microblogs around a central topic where everyone can share and post texts, photos, and videos. Bloggino was started in 2007.
Utterli – Once named Utterz, this service launched in 2007 and lets you post to your blog or social networks with voice, video, picture, and text.
Never Really Got Off The Ground
Plerb – Free microblogging service that opened in summer of 2008.
Microblogr – No frills microblogging service that begain in September 2007.
Beemood – Twitter-like microblogging/IM service that launched in 2007. Beemood describes itself as “a free, funny and easy way to share thousands of messages with your friends and keep in touch with them, all around the world.
Hictu – Incredibly this site launched way back in November of 2006. It boasts itself as the first video microblogging service.
Meemi – Twitter-like service that began in 2007 and describes itself as a place to share your emotions and micro content with your friends/family quickly and easily.
Koornk – Another Twitter-like service that was deployed in 2008. It touts itself as “your personal shouting place that lets you stay in touch with your friends via short, quick messages”.
Numpa – Micro blogging service that launched in 2007 allowing you to keep in touch with friends using a maximum of 140 characters and attach photos.
No Consistent Growth Or Loss Yet
Plurk – A service that puts a spin on microblogs by adding a graphic timeline to your micromessages. Plurk launched in 2008 and receives well over 300,000 unique visitors during any given month according to Compete.
Yammer – Professional microblogging platform. Their basic service is free and companies can pay to claim and administer their own networks. Launched in September of 2008, Yammer was founded by former executives and employees of large successful corporations like eBay and Paypal. Yammer seems to have carved out a nice business for itself but is under a good amount of competition from other business collaboration software providers like CubeTree, Jive, and SocialText as well as a plethora of online project management software services.
Shout’Em – Simply described as Ning for Twitter, this co-branded micro blogging and social networking service allows you to easily create your own Twitter-like site for your own business or niche microblogging service. Shout’Em possesses an attractive interface that’s simple and clean. They handle all the technical details letting you choose the features, design, and colors for your microblogging site.
YouAre - Describes itself as a microblog mashup of Twitter, Delicious, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. YouAre launched in 2007 and quickly added more features to essentially create a better Twitter. Pownce used this same playbook but failed. YouAre’s design is less trendy than Pownce and has more of a business feel with full profiles that include work and educational information about the user.
Sites Displaying Traffic Growth
Brightkite – A location based microblog and social network service that opened its doors in 2007 and has been consistently gaining new users and traffic. It allows you to see the location of your friends in real time to keep up with what they’re doing and notifies you in case their nearby so you can meetup with them.
Identi.ca – A free, open source microblogging platform that permits coworkers or users to exchange short, 140 character limited messages.
Soup.io – Similar to Tumblr, it was started in 2007 and has been showing showing some real promise. Soup.io is a tumblelog; a short-post version of a blog that usually includes media rich content with little commentary. This is in contrast to the more text based content delivered by traditional blogs that are comment rich.
Tumblr – Founded by David Karp, Tumblr seems to have carved out flourishing niche for itself offering tumblelogs to those that want a little more than a Twitter account but less hassle than a full service blog. Unfortunately it looks as if perhaps a major reason why it’s doing so well is because of all the adult content publishers on Tumblr.
12Seconds.tv – Launched in 2008, 12seconds is essentially a micro-vlogging, video status updating service that gives you 12 seconds of video recording time to say whatever is on your mind. It’s most likely destined to succeed given that it’s the only one of its kind, celebrities like Shaq are beginning to use it, and its a perfect match for integrating with Twitter clients/apps that want to support video.
HelloTxt – Founded in Italy in 2007, HelloTxt brings all your status update and microblog services together in one place (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc.). It lets you comment/reply to any incoming micromessages from any of those numerous services and allows you to tack on photos, videos, and music. HelloTxt is integrated so that you can update your status from email, SMS, instant messengers, phone, and your Firefox browser. HelloTxt has a counter that tells you how close you are to the 140 character limit but permits you to break that barrier as well.
FriendFeed – Initially FriendFeed (FF) started off in October of 2007 as an activity aggregator that allowed you to import all your web based service feeds so that friends and family member could keep track of what you were doing online. It has since morphed into a Twitter-like microblog design and a real-time social content sharing aggregator where users can update their Twitter status, easily comment on added content (photos, videos, etc.) and engage in rich lengthy, non-140 character limit discussions. FriendFeed is displaying consistent healthy growth but it is simply overshadowed by Twitter. It is my opinon that, despite simplifying the design, FriendFeed should strive to make the FriendFeed 3.0 version like Twitter 2.0 in order to crossover for mainstream use. That is, with a very minimal interface (i.e. don’t display comments directly beneath content) with full Twitter application capabilities (i.e. ability to check replies and direct messages from FF).
Twitter – Obviously it had to be included. Twitter launched in March of 2006 and crossed over into mainstream use earlier this year (~Feb 2009) to become insanely popular and adored by celebrities and the major media. Despite Twitter’s slowed traffic growth rate (from ~100% to ~39% monthly uniques) its on course to break the into the top 20 most popular websites in the U.S. by the end of this summer. Given it’s massive adoption (~1000 Twitter apps/clients), Twitter may become the most valuable website on the internet someday.
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