I have been playing with Twitter for a while now, and I really love this “information network” and have marveled at how such a simple platform has been empowered by millions of peripheral third party tools. These third party tools have completed many needed Twitter functions like sorting conversation channels and uploading pictures which were not enabled by Twitter itself, and they really have made Twitter what it is today. I attribute it all to the beauty of an open source platform in today’s technology world.
Paul Graham predicted in 2001 (2001!), these kinds of light weight and open web-based applications were going to replace heavier, complete desktop apps. In the past ten years, the rise of Twitter and other neat web applications have proven his prediction to be very true, it is a whole new collaborative world now. I devoted a post in the past on these neat and essential Twitter tools I use, and since then, I’ve been delighted to see many more have emerged. Some of these new tools are different from the previous functional, complementary ones. They seem to have created a whole category that adds more extensional value to Twitter, for example, Twitter feed analytical tools and vertical tools that explore Twitter’s practical applications in certain industries.
One of these new tools I liked very much is called Hush, and it uses people’s Twitter feeds to analyze their personal preferences. I tried it myself and hardly beat the game, and it seemed to be correct most of the time. Besides figuring out the easy questions like whether I had done certain things before, based on mentions in my Twitter feed, Hush can also predict complex ones like how I felt about stem cell research, or I would take the high road or the low road, which I swear I have never explicitly revealed on Twitter. It’s without doubt a very interesting Twitter application, and has huge potential of being used for some serious market research. But at the same time, it also alarmed me how much personal information I have shared in public.
A very insightful blog post published by Tech VC Fred Wilson recently has also reflected on the shifting of the focus of Twitter applications. Wilson pointed out in the post that the inflection point of Twitter applications has arrived, and the focus of third-party Twitter applications is shifting from filling Twitter’s functional holes to creating original value on their own and adding extensional value to Twitter.
Here are five areas from which Wilson predicted that the next generation of Twitter’s killer apps would emerge:
” Social Gaming – There have been a number of attempts to build social game experiences on Twitter. But I’m not aware of any successes of scale like we’ve had on the Facebook platform. I think we will see it emerge soon.
Verticals – We have some successes to point to here like Stocktwits for finance and Flixup for movies but this is a wide open opportunity in most verticals and we haven’t seen as much effort here as I’d have expected.
Enterprise – CoTweet comes to mind as well as the efforts that Salesforce has made to integrate Twitter. This is a huge opportunity.
Analytics – While Twitter will obviously be delivering better analytics to its users, particularly its marketing and business users, I believe that there is always a market for third party analytics. Google Analytics is available for free and yet none of the large analytics providers have seen their businesses suffer. There is simply a voracious appetite for information on the Internet. So companies like bit.ly,Radian6 , HubSpot , Scout Labs , and others have a bright future.”
Very insightful post indeed. Twitter lovers and developers, you better keep an eye out for these areas, because they are where Twitter’s future opportunities lie.