Going against sensible practice I am making the prediction that Twitter as a company will ultimately fail to live up to its current expectations — or at the very least, survive as a shell of its former self. Twitter as a concept, however, will succeed. To explain.
Many have listed their reasoning for Twitter’s ultimate demise ranging from spam, to lack of monetization, to a steep dropoff of new users, but I believe the best argument has been articulated in various forms by Dave Winer and Marc Canter who have been saying for a while that the service Twitter offers should not be controlled by a single company and in fact cannot be controlled by a single company long term. A single owner creates a bottleneck, fail whales, and stifled innovation. A communication platform such as this will be subsumed into the web as a distributed service. There is no one Email Company, no RSS Company — these are distributed services that interact through standard interfaces.
What if every email in the world was forced to go through a single company? A single bottleneck? It would make no sense. Within a couple of years a standardized set of protocols will develop such that there will be thousands of Twitter clearinghouses through which messages travel — with robust new features and use cases that haven’t been imagined yet.
“Take a look at internet history: News Groups (NNTP), Email (SMTP/POP3), Web Pages (HTTP), Voice over IP, Video Conference, etc. All have standards and generally operate in a distributed fashion.”(Via Sumolabs)
Facebook has already moved in the direction of testing Twitter-like status updates in that one can open up their updates to everyone on an individual post basis. Add the ability to follow other people’s public status updates without requiring a reciprocal relationship, and most of Twitter’s utility disappears.
The original innovator is rarely on top when the market shakes out, so Twitter better sell out to a larger company soon or evolve to accept the future open standards.
A further opening of the system through open standards (extensively laid out by Marc Canter) will pave the way for the next incarnation of posts of status updates, photos, videos, links, etc — the concept of Twitter which will live on. This type of communication, asymmetric following, and sharing will not be going away. It will evolve and expand through thousands of decentralized services… one of which will be Twitter.