Microblogging is clearly here to stay, despite speculation that Twitter has jumped the shark. The function of microblogging has been adopted by LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and most recently, FriendFeed.
With Twitter as the clear leader, these are the big five. Here’s a chart of their visits during the past three months. It should be noted that Twitter is the only pure microblogging service among them:
Anecdotally, I’ve been noticing a decided spike in subscribers to my FriendFeed during the past three months or so, perhaps as a result of the new features they keep adding that likely make it easier to find other users. But Compete visitor number bear out my observations that the platform is gaining in popularity:
But we’re starting to see fragmentation, as typically happens with new Web platforms. We saw it with social networking with MySpace initially dominating followed by challengers, among them Facebook, which eventually surpassed market share through innovation and by being nimble.
With pure microblogging, Twitter has remained dominant while pretenders like Pownce and Jaiku (for which Google has released the source code) have fallen by the wayside. And more recently, the open source-based Identi.ca hasn’t really gained steam as yet.
But what we are seeing is the emergence of niche microblogging platforms that if not eat away at Twitter’s audience, at least provide more focused and/or more utilitarian alternatives.
Clearly, only a few of these will survive but if I had to place bets, I’d go with the music and video sharing sites as well as the micro reviews, because these sites are in keeping with online activity that is already wildly popular. It’s a natural fit for those who like to share that content already.
The glaring omission, though, is another hugely popular online activity: Photo sharing. I’m not counting Twitpic, because that’s a service built onto Twitter, not a microblogging platform in and of itself.
Yahoo’s Instant Microblogging Platform: Flickr
The infrastructure for such a feature already exists; with the Photostream, your Contacts and Groups you have activity streams for those respective groups, but they haven’t been combined.
There is a lot of commenting going on at Flickr within Groups and around individual photos, so how much of a stretch is it to allow users to post a link to individual photos like you can with songs using Blip.fm or with video at Gawkk?
Flickr is currently more popular than Twitter (but just barely) and it is quickly losing ground to Facebook, in which more people actually share phtos, so you gotta think Yahoo! is concerned over that development.
I gotta believe that adding true microblogging functionality to Flickr would turn that steady but flat growth line into an upward spike practically overnight.