|LIVE NOW| #meerkat How using Twitter’s user base may end badly.

Over the years (I can say that now) I’ve had the opinion that solely using Twitter as a user generation tool usually ends up bad. I also have the sneaking suspicion that history will no doubt repeat itself with AppMeerkat.


Live Video – The Natural Progression

On the surface it makes complete sense, live video. From messages, to short messages, to photos, to snippets of video to live video, yes makes sense to me. Just call it technical evolution. If you also look at the history of these developments a number of companies were thoroughly dependent on a third party platform to boost their user base.

This too made sense as a large volume of users were hanging out in either Facebook, Twitter or both.

Cherry Picking The API

The common growth strategy to get to 1 to a million users is to go via a third party like Twitter and use their user API to log on to your application. You get the user details and some quick traction. Keep auto posting back to Twitter when a user does something and all’s sweet. It’s not.

Remember this Twitter slide from 2012?


From their “we’re changing the API” post basically saying if you’re a Twitter client then you’re stuffed. In developer communities it sent mini shockwaves of how startups would get traction. In the early days Twitter wanted rapid user growth too so opening up the API and getting developers to create client applications and not costing Twitter a penny, well it was the perfect plan.

The cherry pick happened later, Twitter could look at all the apps using their API and acquire the better ones and attempt to kill off the useless ones. A form of digital natural selection. There were plenty of casualties.

Looking at this image again three years later only reinforces to me one thing, everything in those four quadrants is a moveable feast.

Not Just Apps, Look At Watches

It’s not just apps, look at watches. The cherry pick can happen anywhere. Apple have waited a long time to announce a watch, why? Well to see what everyone else was doing first. In the meantime stock the competitor so there’s upsell revenue coming in and then when you’re ready you cut the competitors out of your ecosystem. Simple. Don’t believe me, Look at the fitness things being removed from Apple Stores in waiting for the watch…..

Predicting AppMeerkat’s Rapid…..

Twitter own Vine, six seconds of video looping. I wager that every Vine in house developer is working on live video right now. The cherry pick is already happening with Twitter restricting automatic tweets for Meerkat. Even Meerkat’s CEO Ben Rubin isn’t convinced his startup will outlast the hype.

“People get excited by the novelty of live streaming, but it wears off,” Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin cautioned me on Skype from Israel.” (from the Gigaom piece 5th May 2015)

At least this time around there’s a CEO under no illusions.

The timing of all this is the perfect storm for startups, pundits and grumpy ones like me. SXSW is going through the motions and the tech press is looking for that startup showpiece that stole the show in Austin. Attendees are live streaming now and on the surface it’s stealing the show.

Cast your minds back to the Foursquare and Gowalla launch battle at SXSW then think, what happened since?


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