The Real Reason Why friendfeed is Working

The first time I heard about friendfeed was in mid 2007 but I just passed it over and didn’t think much about it. In the fall of 2007, Jason Shellen stopped by my office in NYC and was talking about it. That day I had an epiphany that Friendfeed would be the next big thing.

I later outlined this in Austin during SXSW this year. People saw the conference as Twitter’s major launch, but in fact, Twitter had launched out of SXSW a whole year earlier (nothing had changed with Twitter over that year other than an effort to remain stable). This year, people simply used it because they already knew what to do with it. Unbeknownst to most, it was actually Friendfeed that launched out of SXSW this year because the earliest adopters were already on to it. Like a meme, or a hit song, Friendfeed has the intrinsic qualities needed to formulaically make it.

Friendfeed essentially renders Twitter obsolete. Steve Gillmor is wrong. The only need for Twitter is for legacy purposes. The same audience that made Twitter is slowly migrating over to Friendfeed because Friendfeed has what Twitter has, but its better and there is a lot more.

So “Why Friendfeed and why Friendfeed when it feels so raw?”, you might ask. Friendfeed is following the same formulaic model that made Twitter popular, but its doing it better and quicker.

I have a couple of insights to offer about this evolution and Freindfeed in particular that I have not seen articulated yet, surpisingly.

Ever wonder why you have to go to Tweetscan or Summize to search in Twitter?  Or why so many people use Twhirl to do Twitter locally? And why Twitter never developed the search, the conversation, or even any of these 100’s of twitter applications and businesses?

Twitter was smart to allow all of these companies to tweet away with their plugin products and not pull an Apple-like infringement case against them. The fact that there is a Twhirl means that there are people and business interests that are out there for Twitter. They are hyping it, trying to raise money for their projects, actively thinking and developing ideas around growing their Twitter-related assets. They are out talking about it. Just by allowing it to happen, Twitter currently has factories upon factories of people all over the world working for them.

It’s a miracle that Twitter made it this far. I believe the reason why is because of the good will and brilliant nature of the people involved initially, and then the good will and excitement of the first adopters. Twitter had two big competitors up until now, Pownce and Jiaku and both had a lot of resources to reckon with. Even with Google involved, these two classic rivals are now flat. Interestingly enough in context of the following paragraph, these other systems were not working because they were not simple enough. 

Time has passed now and everyone that gets Twitter and has become addicted to it, needs more. But its way too spread out now. Over 80% of all of Twitter’s traffic comes from API usage meaning it’s happening without people ever even going to twitter.com, because they need to be somewhere else. I dont even know where some of my tweets live anymore. Tweetscan will show me a Twitter that someone already deleted because it keeps cache. My email alerts refuse to tell me what the message is so I have to login to Twitter from my phone to see.  It drives me crazy that I cant @someone without also quoting them, and linking to them. Even the tinyurl is a pain because I have to go over there to get it or Twitter may or may not do it for me, depending on how much space I have left. There are no pictures or videos or anything else.

Enter Friendfeed, well positioned and taking up Twitter’s evolution. It’s got the good will of the people involved in the company, the same first adopters that Twitter had, and I mean *the same actual people*, it has the features that we want, and on top of all that, it actually works and is reliable. True, it has not seen scale, but Twitter has always been down even when it was small.

FFapps.com shows a short list of applications that have spawned up around Friendfeed from just a few developers. Ill tell you what, now is the time to jump in with an application to leverage the audience if you are into this feeder fish application phenomenon. Think Facebook apps. Twitter apps. Friendfeed apps.

It’s almost as if Friendfeed is intentionally raw, waiting for some young interface designer chap to present the data in a more compelling way. All you need to do is do it right, do it best and do it now and and you will likely win over the hearts and minds of the authoritative and savvy first adopters. FF created an API so anyone could do with FF what they could do with Twitter. Friendfeed will be smart to allow 3rd party applications to help build up the hype, but they will need to do what Twitter has not yet done and that is continue to innovate themselves. Else, the young chap who is following in FF footsteps, even if just by design, will overtake FF too. The problem that Twitter has now is that FF is in fact a good interface and that becomes apparent the more you use it. The look-and-feel? Not so much. And not so much of a problem to fix.

Time is of the essence. Twitter has a chance to step up to the plate but they must first satisfy everyone’s basic needs of providing a stable application. Friend Feed is not only ahead in that department, they are way ahead. 

To everyone who is not a developer but simply wants to get in on the social, this is the number one best time to jump in with an account and become an active participant. The first adopters of a new platform tend to have the greatest advantages when the system becomes larger and even more important. [my friendfeed account is here]