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Twitter is no Facebook and that's fine

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The problem is Twitter spent a cool $150 million on research & development. And for what?

Obviously if cold fusion at scale or a cure for cancer emerges from this, we'll all be glad (and Twitter will make a bunch of money). But what Twitter appears to be spending money on is a somewhat flailing, desperate effort to make itself seem more like the larger, more monetizable, and faster growing Facebook. In the process, it risks spending itself into bankruptcy. Worse, from my standpoint, it risks alienating its core fans and users by trying to continually reinvent itself to look and work more like Facebook. Facebook is great, but people who want the Facebook experience can get it from Facebook. The Twitter experience is also great. If it's somewhat less appealing in the aggregate than Facebook, that doesn't mean it's a failure. It just means it's a smaller-scale success than Facebook.


The modern world has room for more than one social service. LinkedIn and Twitter both do things — and do them well — that Facebook does not. Conversely, they do not do the things that Facebook does well. Ultimately what Facebook does best — help people keep in touch with far-flung friends and family — strikes very close to the universal heart of human existence, so it's no surprise that it's the biggest company.

But even as Facebook speaks to universal needs, all of us have some less-universal ones too. I'd hate to go even a day without Twitter's amazing constant stream of news, wit, and vituperation. It's not for everyone, but it does seem to be tens of millions of us. And all indications are that Twitter can make it work as a business. If, that is, they don't accidentally destroy it in a desperate effort to try to become Facebook.

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