Friday, March 11. 2011
...and all the 3rd parties are shocked. TechCrunch:
They’ve updated the API Terms of Service to reflect all of this.
In other words none of this datascraping, filtering twts, blocking Ads, etc etc. Who ever could have predicted it...
(That's right, us....and many, many others)
Sunday, April 11. 2010
Twitter plugs its holes
That Twitter would eventually take over the more popular 3rd party functions was 100% predictable since Microsoft built Excel. That it would happen now was harder to predict, though there have been rumblings for at least 6 months, so the Ecosystem's gnashing and wailing is a tad overdone. I mean, what did they expect - that Twitter would carry on taking all the costs of building out a service while they took the revenue and customer relationships?
Oh, they did expect that - more fool them, then
As Dare Obasanjo notes, the thing that has really forced action now is the Mobile experience issue:
We thought that chasing the Twitter Ecosystem as a pure play was a tad daft when we wrote 6 months ago to Beware of the Twitterbubble:
Hey, don't say we didn't tell you so
OK Smart*rse, I hear you say - now what? Well, really, there is only really one option - sell your business before Twitter plugs it up or some other startup in your area does. There are is only one XXX that Twitter will buy. There are 3 sub options:
But as for Keeping On Keepin' On, well, that's just going to get a lot harder, especially for the Non-number ones. What I expect to see is lots of 3rd party people jumping out of the obvious Next-Grab holes into ones that look further away and well as some Desperate Attempts to sell early to Twitter.
Update - Mark Suster (whom I knew as a callow youth at BT ) puts it very well:
I agree with Fred Wilson’s post that startup applications shouldn’t simply be plugging in minor feature gaps in Twitter’s offering. Or if they do they should do so without raising venture capital so that they can still be acquired for reasonable prices. Actually, the latter could be a reasonable strategy for super technical entrepreneurs who can sustain themselves without big financing needs (see: Atebits, owner of Tweetie). I articulated in a previous post that startups should not treat the iPhone as a business but rather as a channel. The same is true of Twitter, and as a VC I would personally never fund a company that looked to simply plug a functional gap in Twitter.
Good point re making yourself too expensive to buy.
Saturday, February 13. 2010
So, the kids' XBox 360 gets a 3 lights error, after 18 months ownership. We go through the online diagnostic, this basically means there has been a complete hardware #Fail on the system, and is a well known fault with the earlier XBox and has been since 2007. The Microsoft website tells us:
Solution: Submit a console repair request
So, being the dad wot owns it, I go online (from work). And this is when the sh*t starts:
Firstly, to sign in for your repair, you have to sign in with your Live ID. This is your ID as an online XBoX gamer. You don't have a Live ID? - well, to get your machine repaired you need a Live ID. I don't have a live ID, and I can't for the life of me see why I need a Live ID, invent a gamer tag, get a picture for my avatar, and hand over all that other personal data just to get a tin with a known #Fail repaired.
Microsoft says that they are doing this to "enhance my experience" - but as far as I can see all they are doing it to make it hard to get a machine with a manufacturer's fault repaired.
So, I decide to email them instead, I just want the tin, serial No 1234567890, address 1 Broadstuff Towers, fixed after all. That what I do with PCs when they fail. I duly find the the email system, write the email, and get the promise that I will hear in 48 hours. 24 hours later I get the response:
Keep in mind, dear reader, that this is the dreaded "3 Ring " fault - a well known design fault on XBox's, akin to the sort of thing that forces Toyota Pious recalls etc. It is not an exotic hardware problem. Nor is this a build to order supercomputer, its a bog standard game console.
Anyway, the email suggests I call Customer Service (at my cost of course, if you use a mobile which I have to do as I'm doing this at lunch time on a client site).
The ACD system leads me through a series of steps, essentially it keeps on trying to get me to go back to the website and log on. I doggedly hang on till I get to an agent, after 1 dropped call, and a lot of frustration with the voice (un)recognition system.
The agent wants me to do a diagnostic first, as described on the website. I tell him the kids did that, thats why I'm emailing/calling etc. (Is it unreasonable to want a process that can handle a paying parent phoning from work?)
The next gambit is to get me to to log in on the website and do it all that way. I say the reason I am calling is that I am not an XBox Live gamer, don't want to be an XBox Live gamer - thats the kids' schtick, I just want my sodding tin, with a #factory fault #fail, Serial No 123456789, fixed Now! Please. (I say Please because I'm still being polite)
Then we have a discussion about whether the XBox is with me at the time, can we run some tests. At this point my politeness becomes extreme (I do that when I'm cross) as it becomes clear they are just trying to avoid getting my tin in for a repair. I point out that we know what the problem is, they know what the problem is as its common and featured on their own help sites, and I just want the bloody box fixed without all this crap.
Then, after a delay for backroom conflab, they finally agree to take it back and we agree to hand it back, and go through it all. It will cost £100, they say, as it is out of warranty and because I haven't logged in on the website, and can't therefore write down the fault, and can't do the diagnostic online there and then and answer in detail some questions about power lights etc (I can't promise that its 3, not 4 lights that go on, and that the power light is green, not orange etc), they seem to want to treat it as a "daft customer caused error". In essence, its my system's fault, my system is out of warranty, if I want it fixed, I need to pay to fix it.
Thoughts of irreparable psychic damage to kids if I don't return with a "fixed XBox" story that evening fills my guilty conscience - besides, I have a conference call in 10 minutes, its taken nearly an hour to get to this stage so I agree, and the credit card number is duly handed over.
Conference call over, I am thrown back into work and that takes over my day - and so today, 24 hours later, I am closing down the XBox website tabs when something catches my eye - a Wikipedia entry, from 2007, saying that:
What! A 3 Year warranty for this fault. Waiddaminit - I have had to hand over £100 to get it fixed and Microsoft offered a 3 year warranty 3 years ago! And my machine is only 18 months old. Where on the Microsoft site does it say this? (I still can't find it...)
And so, dear reader, I am back on the phone service, trying to get my £100 back. Will keep you updated. Watch this space! (Update - phoned up customer service - I read that if you just say "agent" to the ACD, it goes straight to the call centre, which worked). The rep said yes, it is a 3 year warranty and then disappeared for various periods as they conflabbed as to what to do at each twist and turn of the complexity of all this. Result - cancel original works order, set up new one, refund money, time taken - 1 hour 04 minutes - money to be paid within 30 days (hold on to that money for a month for the interest, why dont you....).
But is this any way to "enhance my experience" via Customer Service? It created total frustration as it is:
- clearly designed to create roadblocks to getting things sorted, I had to hang on to teh phone for an hour twice
Surely, if one wanted to delight one's customers, you would have a big webpage, easy to get to, with a "Hey, we have a manufacturer's fault, it works like this, we've extended the warranty to 3 years and here is a fast track to getting it fixed" or somesuch.
This is a product design fault, remember. Do they think the labyrinthine support process they have implemented is designed to make me a faithful XBox customer? To shout about my delight of how they sorted it out from the rooftops, and enthuse others? If so, let me tell Microsoft this:
To be fair, Microsoft business support is better than consumer support, but that just increases the irritation if anything.
Microsoft isn't the only one to do this, of course - don't these companies get the interconnected knock ons that the same person looking for support here is a customer for future purchases? Why do companies do this?
An update from Nic Butler sheds some light:
"...your experience is 100% opposite to mine. I had the problem (18mnths) and in the same day I got the paper work in to get it fixed.
heh, well I did use my live account via the web filled out the details made 1 10min call and it was all in progress."
It seems therefore that the only repair use case is a gamer, with Live ID, sorting it out with console in front of them. A non gaming parent sorting it out from work is bad news. Here is what we don't understand though - from the Twitter conversation:
Well, we did take it back to the store initially (Game as it happens) who said that it was out of the 12 month warranty so we had to go direct to Microsoft. As Nic notes, service from a retailer is much better, so given that Microsoft had already extended warranty to 3 years for this fault, why not let the retailers handle it and delight the customer?
Thursday, February 11. 2010
The BlogoPimposphere of course is besides itself, but if we may take a more long term view:
Orkut begat Jaiku begat OpenSocial begat Wave begat Buzz.....
In other words it cannot fail. But lo - despite the hype, I see the reasonable people I know saying things like:
- Its just added an order of magnitude to my inbox, I was trying to cut it down by that
And so on.....
I predict another bird that won't fly, at least not without without a lot of mods - which if the past is anything to go by Google won't do.
But of course its job is not to work, its job is to disrupt the economics of fledgling competitors like Facebook trying to get to profitability.
What will it be in 6 months time then?.
Thursday, December 3. 2009
So, installed the latest edition of Tweetdeck yesterday, and soon after shot off a RT (re-twt) on some matter, with my usual < comment attached here. The RT pops up with my comment lots. TRy again - same effect. Ah - clearly, Tweetdeck has implemented the "helpful" new Twitter facility where only the pristine original can be passed on.
I really, really, really don't like this - my role in the Twitterverse is not just a bot to pass on the witterings of others, slave like - I like to comment on things, in fact sometimes I don'r RT because I adore the comment., but because I think its BS and want to add my 2p worth of scorn. Or just add my 2p worth.
I see Paul Clarke is similarly grumpy:
Yes, another play on cleaning up your stream – as with #fixreplies. But what’s all this stuff about ‘dictating’ etiquette? What happened to the evolutionary adoption of things that worked? Surely if a long stream of identical tweets was annoying, client applications would evolve that could suppress these at the client. Even I could code that… And if they weren’t identical? Well, that would be because people put in little personal comments along the way with their RTs. So you’d lose those, obviously. (Or have to throw them away depending on how you tuned your duplicate tweet suppression on the client.)
Certainly another Twitter client - I want my ability to add comments back on Tweetdeck, and I want it now. This one is a biggie for my user experience.
Update - as some helpful people have pointed out in the comments, one can actually adjust Tweetdeck to allow commenting, but it is certainly not the default. So do I feel sorry for my grumpiness above - well, a bit, but not really, because the Tweetdeck upgrade removed a facility I had already and valued, with no warning, and didn't tell me how to recover from it. Now you could argue that I'm being boorish, churlish and damn foolish, but I can tell you this - its the first time since starting to use Tweetdeck that I started to look at other clients. And that, ultimately, is the lesson.
Update to my update - But the ultimate issue is this - Twitter has unilaterally changed a function, that the community evolved, for its own ends, this is where things start to get "interesting" as they say.
Friday, November 27. 2009
The value (or not) of real time news
Today, Twitter got the news out 45 minutes earlier than any mainstream media that Tiger Woods hit a fire hydrant. As per Twitter, he started off Critical, them Serious, then Injured and now its "admitted, treated and released in good condition" and is now resting safely at home. We wish him well.
Now TechCrunch logged this as:
This Is Why The Internet (And Twitter) Wins
I can see why the Internet wins. That's easy. But Twitter? The question is, is this really real time, real value - ie, in the endgame, when all this stuff is stuff that people will actually pay for, what is the value of realtime sensational inaccurate sleb news on Twitter? Would you pay $0.05 for the Tiger Woods Near Death newsflash 15 minutes early before it hit the Net, or 45 minutes before it hit the wires? $0.5? $5.00?
And then look at its magnificent performance with Jan Moir et al for example.....
What would you pay to get the accurate story first? Or Warnings of real disasters?
I put up the classic 2x2 above, and apart from the vacuous joy of getting whuffie by retweeting the news microseconds before anyone else, its hard to see where the value is in this sort of news once the novelty has worn off.
The issue I'm driving at is this - The value of most of this sort of news is the lowest value media you can imagine apart from what you had for lunch or where your kitteh peed last. ( High value media is stuff that drives big impact things, moderate value media is stuff that you will pay good money to see or know - low value media is what you use to fill in the 5 minutes when you're bored waiting for something more interesting to turn up )
Update - the ongoing Tiger Woods Saga makes it clear that the initial simpering-yet-sensationalist Twitterings were complete and utter rubbish. If spreading complete and utter BS at the blink of an eye is The Ultimate In News, Lordelpus.
Sunday, November 22. 2009
About 2 years ago Facebook announced a 100 year revolution in Media, called Beacon. It was a way of trying to inject Ads into your friendship group and conversation stream. It also used the resulting transactions to build a database about you to on-sell. It went down very well. Not.
Well, Twitter has been moving that way, with 3 new steps:
(i) Registering twts on Google and Bing - for money.
Mash this all together and you get some wonderful services - RT Ads into my stream and I can't avoid them (well, I can - I have to individually turn off the ability to see every person's RT individually - in my case that 400+ accounts to be updated.) No mass setup button there! And of course, all the transaction data can be mined and sold on.......
I rather loved this quote by a defender of the New, from Gawker:
"We are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network. All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us."
Its a recipe for spam, spam, glorious spam
I just knew that this would happen when Dick Costolo came on board, he did much the same for (to?) Feedburner, which was later bought by Google then quietly put to death when (surprise) it's once rapturous audience started to desert it.
Will this happen to Twitter? I don't know, it has a few architectural features that have allowed users to win the spam race so far:
(i) Unfollow people who are vexatious to your soul - but this won't help with RT spam
The question is, why is Twitter doing this so quickly with so much money in the bank to give it time to figure things out? Well, Mr Costolo's last trick was to stuff a datafeed business full of Ads and flog it to Google, so.....
A little while ago the Cluetrain Manifesto celebrated its 10th birthday. It was supposed to guide people towards a happier, more respectful attitude towards service users. Well, clearly Twitter - like Facebook before it - is no longer on the same page, or there is a ClueTrainwreck evolving slowly and it was all bollocks. The smart money seems to voting that its bollocks.
I wonder. As a customer I don't like the new RT, don't like Ads served to me surreptitiously, and am unhappy that Google and Bing are indexing every twt. Not so much "Ambient Intimacy" as "Ambient Interdiction". And other smart users seem to be saying the same....
Wednesday, November 18. 2009
Stephen Fry, as quoted on Techblorge
Like with the printing press, Twitter [has] changed the situation. People like me, Twillionaires, we can cut out the press from our PR requirements. It used to be a pact with the devil. You wanted to inform the press about a new film and they said they will interview you, but only if they are allowed to ask you around other themes about your private life.
This was from his turn at the Exploring the State of Now 140 Conference ( didn't go, there have been so many "140" type conferences in London recently and this one was charging silly money to see the same old crowd )
I get that celebrities can disintermediate their own media circusses, but I must say I am intrigued by the notion of it being "human" shaped rather than "business" shaped (given that what he just described before seems very business shaped to me). Plays well to the Social Media kool aid drinkers I'm sure, but I'm danged if I know what he really meant - so I asked Twitter for some thoughts and here they came:
@kevinmarks - with google you type an intention into a box and expect a machine; with twitter you type an emotion and expect a human (Kevin has blogged his thoughts here)
Update - check out the very smart comments.....
I'm afraid I've probably been around too long and have hype-o-chondria but I'm on @loudmouthman's side - I can see nothing in its architecture that says its "human shaped" per se (although maybe in its flexibility its human shaped), but its full of people who believe it is (or full of business people who want peeply weoply people to believe it?) and use it for human things. I suppose its human shaped in that when I type an Intention into a box on Twitter I get a multiplicity of conflicting answers
If you liked this post, don't forget to vote for Broadstuff for the British BIMAs 2009 Best Blog Award . If you hated it, vote anyway.....
Friday, November 13. 2009
ComScore - Twitter users in US (hat tip TechCrunch)
So, this article on TechCrunch talking about Twitter user numbers in the US slowing down makes it onto Techmeme on Friday morning (UK time). It says:
Ever since last summer, Twitter’s growth in the U.S. has been stalling. But in October, the number of people who visited Twitter.com from the U.S. actually declined for the first time by 8 percent month-over-month. Estimates released today by comScore put Twitter’s domestic unique visitors at 19.2 million, down from 20.9 million in September.
But here is the thing - I read about it on Twitter on Tuesday for the first time I think - by today, as it gets on Techmeme, its old news. Old News! On Techmeme! Two years ago that would have been unthinkable.....
A 3 day difference in news is a huge arbitrage and valuable to someone I am sure. I was struck by what Heather Hampton of the UK Department of Health said of her experience of using Twitter to monitor scarememes about Swineflu, in that she had a good 10 days warning before a Twitter story finally broke in the Panic! Panic! mainstream media organs. So, whereas a few years ago the Dept would be caught on the back foot, they now have about a week to be prepared to counter the News Agenda. (She was speaking at Mashup Social Media 09, see our coverage here)
So for this reason I suspect Twitter - or whatever similar service succeeds it - isn't going away anytime soon. I've always seen it as an infrastructure layer, not a service layer thing and its architecture is just too darn useful to too many people.
Tuesday, November 3. 2009
The Twitter Lynchmob kicked off when a UK Twitterer dared to find Stephen Fry "a bit boring" has made the New York Times. That is an astounding occurrence for what is still a tiny social network. But to me the more interesting thing about this is its another lesson (after quite a few in recent weeks) of the way Whuffie (Social Capital) really works in Social Networks, despite the best intentions of the optimists.
In a nutshell, the lessons are that:
What this implies is twofold:
(i) Without some form of internal system moderation, whether manual or automatic, a social network will by its structure tend to mob lynch rule.
I was trying to put some numbers to this latter point today and used the concept of "weak" vs "strong" tells to define one's committment to The Cause (whatever it is).
On Twitter, all I need do is Re-Tweet a call to action, or (slightly more time) press a Vote button on some online poll set up, install a twibbon or paint my avatar some colour. A matter of a few seconds. These are very weak tells, take virtually no effort.
Now imagine if I tried to complain in "real life" - probably the least effort is to send an email to some politician or body responsible - its probably several minutes to write, lets say about 2 - so thats c 120 seconds to say 1-2 for a retweet. So an email is 2 orders of magnitude stronger as a "tell".
Using real goods, the easiest is probably a postcard to said politician or body responsible - I'd argue that its probably 10 times more effort than an email to write, post, deliver and read at the other side, never mind the price of a stamp. This is starting to become a strong tell.
And by the time its a march of protestors giving up a whole day, that's several thousand orders of magnitude stronger as a tell.
Thus, many more of these sort of "24 hour witch burnings" on Twitter and most people will shrug off a Twitter Mob as you would an attack by a horde of storm flies - some will irritate your eyes and ears, some will get up your nose and in your hair, but they will be easily brushed off.
In other words, the correct response to the cry "The peasants on Twitter are revolting" (again) is, Yes, they are, aren't they
Which is a pity, because sometimes the wolves being bayed at are real, like in the Trafigura case.
If you liked this post, don't forget to vote for Broadstuff for the British BIMAs 2009 Best Blog Award
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