Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Let’s operate under the premise that Einstein was right about this. Why then, do I, and nearly everyone else on Twitter continue to keep coming back to this infuriatingly unstable platform to connect with our communities? It’s likely because, for now, that’s where the people are, and while most users are getting frustrated with nearly daily outages, no one is taking that first step toward migration. That seems to be the million dollar question – why do we keep coming back? To be more precise, it could soon become the $250 a year question if Jason Calacanis holds sway with the folks at Twitter. Recently there has been a chorus of people from Om Malik to Pat Phelan calling for some type of metered/pay service.
Om Malik’s post is essentially an indictment of the users, “extreme users” specifically. Let me get this straight… it’s the users “fault” that Twitter keeps going down?? This is how you want to introduce a pay/metered system on Twitter?? I have a difficult time reconciling Twitter’s desire to scale with imposing a fee structure on those who help drive growth in order to solve underlying technology issues that they didn’t anticipate. This smacks of hubris to me, the kind of hubris attendant in a brand that thinks they’re the only game in town (think cable company only with hipsters at the helm). This has already driven to a contest to build a better mousetrap and in the interem, I wonder if folks will simply migrate to an equally useful existing platform like Jaiku or Pownce. If Twitter offered added value and created REAL pro accounts, offering tools to organize friends, send messages to groups etc, then I’d consider paying.
Under the Om Malik plan I would pay around $60 a month. It’s important to note here that none of this discussion has come directly from the Twitter team themselves. But given the uniformity of the this pricing structure amongst the bloggerati, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this turd in the pool has been floated with at least the implicit aknowledgement of Twitter and/or their investors. Now, $60 may not seem like much to some people. But let’s get real for a minute, as our buying power diminishes daily $60 is not insignificant to me. That’s a weeks worth of gas in my Honda Element. For that $60, all that is being currently discussed is platform stability.
Imagine buying a car, driving it off the lot only to find that the engine routinely dies. Imagine taking the car to get fixed over and over again until the dealer finally tells you he’ll fix it for good for an extra $5000. What chaps my hide a bit here is that the early adopters (I joined in Nov. 2006), helped grow Twitter’s mainstream adoption. Nearly everyone on the service has evangelized the platform by either word of mouth, blog posts, mainstream media mentions, or workplace use. In many respects they wouldn’t be where they are today without the very people that proposed fee plans would penalize. Perhaps if I try to glean as much potential financial/professional benefit from every Twitter post, I’ll soon grow more tiresome than I already am. Then people will drop me in droves leaving Twitter more affordable to me. That should make Twitter AWESOME! It’s the people that make Twitter what it is. It is CLEARLY not the platform in and of itself.
Over the weekend, I engaged in an ideological video tete a tete with Seesmic CEO Loic Lemeur on the topic of paying for Twitter. The videos are short, but it’s clear that I don’t come at this unemotionally.
Drops in ad spending forecasts for social networks are likely drivers in the push for pay-for-use and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this in places other than Twitter. Overall, I have no problem with paying for something I find useful, or that simplifies my life. I do take issue with the suggestion that Twitter hold stability for ransom. So to those forced with re-examining revenue models and premium” plans, I would humbly suggest creating an added value transaction, not penalizing the community that has helped build your brand.