Friday, March 20, 2009

Twitter (and Twitter Businesses) BE VERY AFRAID!

I was shocked to read about a Harvard Economist's study recently (Article is actually a hoax but read on - ). The study implies that the downturn in the economy is DIRECTLY correlated to a drop in productivity and tied directly to increased use of Twitter by people in the workforce.

While I completely laugh at this notion, if you have a vested financial interest in Twitter (either as an investor in Twitter, or perhaps you have/or are building a business based on the Twitter API), you need to know the history of Pointcast.

I first saw (used) Pointcast in 1996 and was blown away by it (as were most everyone else). Pointcast was a screensaver that "broadcast" news of interest to you into the screensaver. In 1997 Pointcast was all the rage. It's ubiquotous popularity reminded me of exactly the popularity and attention that Twitter is recieving now. Pointcast was gaining in numbers and popularity so quickly in fact that New Corp. very quickly made an unheard of (at the time) offer at that time of almost a half billion dollars to acquire Pointcast.

Fast forward a scant 2 months latter, and Pointcast is making headlines everywhere. Not because the service it offers is so cool - but because of all the corporate bandwidth (at the time bandwidth was both expensive and precious) the application was using. One by one until there was a groundswell, network admins. started blocking access to Pointcast. In short order the majority of corporate America had blocked access, and usage fell off a cliff. News Corp subsequently withdrew their offer, and Pointcast got sold on the cheap...going out on a wimper.

So for those whose financial lives depend on the Twittersphere...be aware, and never let go the lessons of history.

(BTW - I do not think Twitter and other social networks will be banned behind the firewall - but one should always be aware of risks that come out of nowhere)

Let me know what YOU think - You can find me on Twitter here.


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2 comments:

Jeff Shuey said...

Andrew --- I'm glad someone else remembers Pointcast. It was a cool app AND as you so rightly pointed out a massive bandwidth hog. I remember the headaches it caused and I also remember the emotional attachment people had to their news feeds. Hmmm, sound familiar to anything going on today?

Great article and thank you for the flashback. I was talking with someone last week about Pointcast and they had no idea what i was referring to. That's OK, but it comes back to that old line - Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Let's hope we have some historians out there.

@jshuey

Charlie Profit said...

Actually many companies are blocking FaceBook; I worked at one. I think companies that monitor their employees Internet and Twitter usage and find it does affect productivity, will block Twitter too. Of course it's harder to stop people from using Twitter from their personal cell phones! Although, "you're fired" comes to mind.

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