Astronaut TJ Creamer just tweeted from space, marking the very first extraterrestrial tweet. The blogosphere is abuzz with the news, falling over themselves trying to spin the news bite into lengthy articles.
This sort of publicity is short lived and superficial. Long has Twitter lived on the wave of hype surrounding the product. This brought Twitter its months of gigantic growth, with millions flocking to the site. That has changed, and that is why Twitter has a serious problem.
Twitter grew by bringing the curious, media consuming types to the website, and getting them to sign up on the strength of its hype in the traditional and electronic media. What seems to have happened is that all of those people have come to the site, and the ones that enjoy the service have stayed. The others have left. Put simply, Twitter seems to have tapped out the easy-growth demographics.
As we have now seen, new account creation on Twitter has dried up. Even more so, I still get 503 error messages, fail whales, and other assorted problems daily. The site is broken, the service still crashes, it has lost nearly all its growth momentum, and has yet to monetize outside of two commercial deals. Oh, that and the Twitter spam problem has not even begun to be corrected.
And what are we all talking about? One poorly typed Tweet from outer space. Is that what we should be focusing on? What about Twitter still being broken? What about these traffic graphs showing Twitter completely stagnant in its home market:
These problems are huge, and Twitter seems to be doing little to fix them. Aside from a half-assed attempt to fix the Suggested User List, Twitter has done little to make the services simpler for new users, more powerful for advanced users, more stable for all users, and more transparent for business users. A handful of minor changes does not a product fix when it has serious, deep issues.
Twitter still has nearly endless potential, but it seems to be squandering it. Twitter has the funding, staff, advisers, investors, and dedicated core users that any other company would dream of, and they brought us a broken, downgrade of a retweet function. Hell, we actually had to invent that for them to begin with. Lists were nice, but it is hardly a core product for the mass market user.
Twitter took for granted its growth, and never focused. Twitter search is still one tenth what it could be. Twitter.com is nothing compared to what teams of a few guys in a basement have hacked together. The community that built Twitter can move on to something else. Twitter needs to focus on growth, stability, and developing its core product.
And they can, if they had someone at the helm who can find a direction for the company. We won’t always build it for you Twitter, sometimes you need to do it yourself. The web interface is the most popular among casual users, your growth market. Get to making it work.