Pownce dies. Jaiku sputters. Can there be only one?Posted on Tue Dec 2 2008
Since 2006, a legion of “micro-blogging” sites have launched to compete with Twitter. Despite its chronic server problems and relatively inferior features, Twitter has persevered to become the gold standard of short-form messaging.
Yesterday, Twitter’s dominance was reinforced by the announcement that competing site Pownce will shut down. Its two lead engineers are moving over to Six Apart, parent company of The Social Path’s blog platform, TypePad.
The death of Pownce raises a few key questions. Let’s tackle two of em:
2. What does this mean for the remaining big-name competitor, Google-owned Jaiku?
I'll try to hash it out after the jump.
So why did Pownce die? Was it really worse than Twitter? No, not at all. It seemed to have everything going for it.
The service offered easier navigation, along with convenient tools for sharing photos and videos. The staff included some of the best-known figures in social media, such as Ariel Waldman, Kevin Rose and Leah Culver.
While Twitter had chronic outages and minimal customer service, Pownce was focused on keeping its community happy. Through Waldman, it even helped trailblaze the role of an online community manager, a job title that’s now one of the fastest-growing on the Web.
But here’s the moment of truth. I never signed up for Pownce.
Why not? I’m one of those nerds who tries everything, right? The hard truth is that once you’ve committed to a micro-blogging service, it’s a substantial chore to pack up the covered wagon and head to another.
I knew Pownce was better, just as I now assume that Jaiku is superior in several ways. And yes, there are some people who will try to maintain a presence on as many sites as possible, usually by just auto-posting the same messages all over the Web. I’m not one of those people.
When Twitter survived its severe growing pains and started being up more often than down, it tacitly killed any hope for Pownce. Few normal humans know what “micro-blogging” is, but they increasingly know what Twitter is. The mainstream simply doesn’t want more than one service to use, just as we don’t really want more than one search engine.
So speaking of search engine, what’s in store for Google’s own Twitter competitor, Jaiku?
It’s a slick system with a lot more built-in features than Twitter. Plus, it’s got the backing of the ultimate Internet juggernaut.
But does anyone care?
I’m reminded of a recent episode of This American Life, where Ira Glass interviewed a guy who owns a mousetrap company.
The man said, yes it’s true, people are constantly trying to invent a better mousetrap. But the irony is, it’s quite easy to catch a mouse, even with the cheap old traps you seen in cartoons.
Maybe, but it’s too late. We’ve already been lured in and ensnared by Twitter.