Twitter overestimates itself on the diffusion curve

Twitter posted news on its blog today, and briefly on the service, that they are removing one of the settings for @replies.

Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

What Twitter reads as “most people” is clearly not the power users, who are using Twitter actively to build networks and reach out to people. That group of power users–a persona, perhaps–is distinctly vocal, and so within moments of this change being announced, blog posts from heavyweights like TechCrunch to personal (but busy) blogs from industry veterans like Whitney Hess all lambasted the move immediately.

How can a company with a clearly scoped, profitable product like Twitter not understand this? (oh, wait..) I believe Twitter is victim of its own hype, and doesn’t know its own location in the product lifecycle. In terms of the diffusion curve, I would estimate Twitter is somewhere in the “early adopters” stage. Until about 6 months ago, it was used innovators only–and heavily dominated by the power user persona who would be offended by a setting like this being removed. As a few celebrities and news networks have jumped on board, the media thinks Twitter is now “mainstream,” but try this test: Go ask 10 of your non-technology friends whether they use Twitter. Even better, whether they understand it, and whether they access it from a mobile device. I bet you get less than 2 who answer yes to the last 2. Twitter is NOT mainstream.

Given that, Twitter should be focused on those power users who make up the innovator and early adopter group–people who like to tweak the experience to their tastes. Instead, they chose to not only remove a useful option, but even worse phrased the rationale as removing an “undesirable and confusing” option. Way to talk down to your user base!

Very bad move, guys.

UPDATE: Turns out there was a technical limitation, so the rationale given was bogus to begin with. So not only did they insult their most technical users, but they lied to them about a technical problem.

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~ by John Peltier on May 12, 2009.

One Response to “Twitter overestimates itself on the diffusion curve”

  1. [...] Twitter overestimates itself on the diffusion curve « John Peltier on Products [...]

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