It was a week ago today, that Pownce lost it’s bounce. Co-founders Leah Culver and Mike Malone took their team with them to work with the company that acquired Pownce, Six Apart, on a new micro-blogging platform called Motion.
Pownce launched with wild-acclaim, supported by the founder of Digg, Kevin Rose, it seemed to have all the neccessary features to put it toe to toe with Twitter, photo and video sharing, status updates and a delightful interface. It just never really took off, despite being more stable than Twitter.
What does this mean for other micro-blogging sites?
Twitter, the biggest micro-blogging site thus far, recently shook off a $500 million offer from facebook. And rightly so. As pointed out by Cnet’s Rafe Needleman, “…when it comes to business philosophies, the companies do not mesh. And I’m not just talking about the well-reported SMS expense that Facebook would take on if it integrated Twitter. More than that, Twitter’s stated revenue plans don’t work for Facebook.”
Twitter, one imagines, see themselves as fighting in the same field as Facebook, but on the other side of the fence. They are competitors, but not competitive.
The key thing is to offer user friendly tools, such as sharing photos and videos, which Twitter just doesn’t do at the moment, unles you’re a fan of the tinyurl. Secondly it’s important to make it easy to sign up (box ticked) and to make it easy to encourage your friends to sign up and be a part of the action.
My problem with alot of the newer micro-blogging services is that they’re falling into the trap of being too customiseable. Look at Facebook’s wide ranging apps – how many are actually useful in our day to day lives and make a difference to the way we communicate? Very few. Similarly with Bebo and Myspace – the integration of new and exciting things to put on your page is exciting for a moment, but nothing more.
If Twitter is to be ousted, or at least equalled, competitors will need to find niches that they can cling on to and exploit. I see Tumblr as being a brilliant way to share photos for example – the message boxes are just large enough for a high definition image to be shown clearly, but not at a size that will set your PC into meltdown.
It is this specialisation that will see each service acquire a following and then grow as that group develops a culture unique to them. All these different cultures will eventually begin to intermingle as users being to find each service useful for different things and then telling their friends to join them on xyz.
It comes down to talent in the end however. Six Apart will have known all along that they were really just after the Pownce team, and not their name or platform. The biggest challenge facing all of the micro-blogging services will be to hold onto their key staff, thinkers and doers alike.
Social Networking, at the moment, is a philosophy that is becoming increasingly tangible, but not ingrained in mainstream culture as Facebook currently is, yet.