Dalton Caldwell on his blog about the path Twitter has chosen to take: the advertising and media business.
Perhaps you think that Twitter today is a really cool and powerful company. Well, it is. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been much, much more. I believe an API-centric Twitter could have enabled an ecosystem far more powerful than what Facebook is today. Perhaps you think that the API-centric model would have never worked, and that if the ad guys wouldn’t have won, Twitter would not be alive today. Maybe. But is the service we think of as Twitter today really the Twitter from a few years ago living up to its full potential? Did all of the man-hours of brilliant engineers, product people and designers, and hundreds of millions of VC dollars really turn into, well, this?
It looks very tough to start monetizing a business like Twitter and I can see how taking the advertising path is attractive. It is a dominant business model on the web. It proved to be successful for Google and to some extent for Facebook too. However, I’m not sure this is the best path for users. I don’t look at ads. I never clicked on an ad on Facebook and I never did on Twitter either. I think people are getting accustomed to ads and learn to avoid them. Moreover, I tend to value less the services pushing ads to me. All this to say, that when I use Twitter I’m not excited to see ads, but I would be excited to see other services or companies adding more features to Twitter, combining their products with Twitter, etc. Businesses could be charged to use special APIs. This is unlikely the most profitable short-term solution, but I’m convinced it can help grow Twitter even more and increase its influence.