Remember when I said this yesterday?
“What would happen if, say, tomorrow Twitter decided that all Twitter clients (third-party and official) had to show some fairly obtrusive ads or you’d need to pay a few dollars per month to use the service?”
It turns out Twitter did change the next day. (I knew nothing of #letsfly at the time, I promise.) Marco Arment, today, whilst linking to John Gruber’s thoughts on the matter.
“I’d wager that all third-party clients will be forced to display the trends and ads within a year, and what we know as Twitter today — or at least what we knew until yesterday morning — will be a distant, quaint memory: Remember when it was just people you followed?”
So, it is happening. Twitter has changed. In the blink of an eye its most loyal users are second-guessing its future. It pulled a Facebook. And I’m guessing that Marco isn’t too far off in his estimate. Twitter will never be the 140-character simple messaging system that we all fell in love with in 2006.
Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski suggests demanding to pay for services that you like that might be free. In fear that free services that are popular are not sustainable. It is a great post. But it raises some questions from me.
How would paying for a service ensure it won’t sell out? Maciej suggests that free services are more likely to shut down “Because it’s hard to resist a big payday when you are rapidly heading into debt.” No doubt that is true but when is a big payday easy to resist? If I had been paying Gowalla a few bucks a month would they have turned Facebook down? I don’t know. But if they still decided to sell the company (or, more accurately liquidate the product and move the team) to Facebook I would have been both disappointed and out a few bucks.
In other words, paying for a service doesn’t ensure its longevity or that it will never change.
What about Twitter? I saw many people linking to Maciej’s post as being good advice and some even had shown how they added the ability to pay for their free services based on this thinking. However, no one has mentioned that all of us are using and advocating a free service that fits Maciej’s scheme just perfectly — Twitter is a rapidly growing free service.
Yes, Twitter shows us ads from time-to-time in the form of Promoted tweets, trends, and accounts. But unless you use the Twitter.com site you’ll rarely see these ads. And, I’m sure, they’re making money behind-the-scenes by giving businesses access to their “firehose” and more controls and analytics than traditional accounts get. But it is still free for the public to use.
What would happen if, say, tomorrow Twitter decided that all Twitter clients (third-party and official) had to show some fairly obtrusive ads or you’d need to pay a few dollars per month to use the service? I’d wager many would pay up. Many would leave. And their growth would slow. However, none of that would ensure that Twitter wouldn’t sell out to a company sometime in the future. Revenue makes Twitter look even more appealing to potential buyers than if they weren’t making money. Revenue, it could be said, makes a company even more likely to sell.
This leads to Maciej’s next suggestion. Build it yourself. Obviously not everyone can do that (or should do that). But that seems to be the best suggestion he made in his post. The only way to ensure a service will be around and not change is to build and maintain it yourself. But, what if it becomes popular and someone with deep pockets makes you an offer? Then where are you? Back at the beginning.
Over 1,000 people found my post on playing Oregon Trail online yesterday. Yes, yesterday alone. Since I linked to it 18 months ago nearly 100,000 people have found that post via Google, Bing and other places and the day-to-day visitors to that post is growing faster than any other page on this site.
It seems everyone is playing Oregon Trail online.
Joby, the makers of the Gorilla flexible tripods, have released a free iPhone camera application called Gorillacam that could be used as a replacement for the default camera app. Tripod not included nor required.
/via John Gruber.
Last night the moon was nearly full and the sky was crystal clear. So I decided to take my Meade 114 eq-asb telescope that Eliza bought me for our seventh wedding anniversary out for a spin to do something relatively simple; look at the surface of the moon.
At least I thought it would be easy. The moon being the nearest celestial object to Earth one would think it would be easy to zone in on it, look at its surface, and get back inside. Not when you have no idea how to properly use your telescope it would seem.
I did manage to see a little bit of what I wanted but I really need to start taking this telescope thing much more seriously. Here is a photo I took of the moon last night that really does not do any justice for the brilliance of the moon. As with all good things in life, using a telescope takes time and effort to master – and I look forward to trying again on the next clear night.
Oh, on a somewhat related note I read over on Wil Wheaton’s blog today that a free eBook is available called What’s Up – 365 Days of Skywatching which gives you a quick, easy, and printable reference of the night sky for each day of the year for 2007. Brilliant.
If you have any other tips, tricks, or resources that you’ve found useful – please feel free to pass them along. I’d love to get better at using my telescope so that it is much more enjoyable and less frustrating next time.