This is the time where the real power and promise of a service, a tool, a community portal or a social medium is when it turns into a Platform with a capital P.
Of all the thousands of web apps that started since 2005 till date, only few have made that leap. Facebook was the new kid on the block two years ago, when it turned its API into a platform.
But one can learn so much from comparing the story of Facebook and Twitter, the latter being the new hot kid on the block.
Here is how I view those two web brands as people:
Facebook to me is a control freak, from a developer’s perspective they keep changing their API without notifying developers in addition to all those restrictions on their API. From a user perspective, too many changes too soon. To that end, I think they have the highest record of how much interface changes a web app can do in shortest period of time. I think they keep forgetting that the user is the application and the capability of the environment is just the tool! I think to forget that is a sin in the web app development business.
On the other hand Twitter to me is this generous chef who since she moved into the neighborhood has had an open kitchen policy where anyone can use the restaurant’s extra kitchen tools to host their own events!
Soon after they launched, the created their API. Geeks from all over loved it and started using it as users and developers. So many tools were founded that helped people tweet better.
I am guessing that they intended it to be a mobile social network used between friends – real life friends, and that what it was at first. Its now in my view a communication tool free from any specific medium being sms, mobile app, browser or desktop.
Today its potential is in the transformation to be one hell of a data mining tool, as well as a new communication technology as Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb put it
Show us a simple messaging tool that can be accessed through a wide variety of methods, using only a (hopefully) memorable username of the person you’re trying to communicate with – and we’ll show you a genre of technology that could disrupt not just email, it could disrupt telephony.
I like to believe that Twitter’s attitude is what eventually created the platform and its potential today. Not just PR, lines of code, big developer events or meetings.
Side note: The only other exciting thing next to twitter these days is of course the iPhone and its App Store 🙂