Page_1Twitter revolutionized the way people interact online.

It’s phenomenal growth shows that a limited, real time network answers a market need, which in turn becomes an opportunity for brands and service providers.

We also see a phenomenal click through rate on links in Twitter messages, probably due to the fact that  Twitter users are there in order to interact and consume content. This interaction makes Twitter a powerful distribution platform.

Twitter started the real time microblogging revolution.

But, risking actually having to eat my hat for this post in the future, I believe that in the long run it won’t sustain as an independent network.

Twitter suffers from several core issues:

1. Lack of context – there is almost no way to track conversation and actually understand how conversations develop in the network

2. Limited extensibility – the 140 characters limit makes it extremely complex to create services based on this protocol (tip hat to Gil Dibner for this one)

3. Lack of groups and filtering – users cannot group contacts based on interest or other parameters and broadcast a message only to them. For example, if I am on a diet, and would like to share it with a community in real time, it might be the case that I wouldn’t be interested that my business partners will be aware of that. Today, the only way to do it is to create separate Twitter accounts for each group, and convince relevant people to follow it.

4. Non intuitive interaction and interface – how many times did you try to define what’s Twitter to your mom? And how easy it is with Facebook? And how complex it is for new users to “get” what is it all about? I believe that this is one of the main reasons of the 60% service churn reported recently.

I strongly believe that real time Microblogging will prevail – as it has a lot to offer. But taking these issues into consideration, we will see that Twitter as a service, will have limited long term growth.

So what will be the future of Microblogging?

1. We will see more and more communities integrate Twitter-like functionality in their sites – for example, no reason why a diet site won’t allow users to interact in a closed, real time, microblogging environment. These niche real time communities will fragment Twitter potential user base and diminish the value of a general purpose network.

2. Major portals will add their own version of microblogging as well – Yahoo! is already doing it, and Facebook/Friendfeed deal might show the direction they are taking. This will be another nail in the coffin of Twitter as general purpose network.

3. Twitter as an independent network will either collapse due to spam, lack of groups and other issues, or will be bought by one of the major online players – for their users base. It will always have a hardcore fan base, but it won’t be enough, in my opinion, to sustain it financially.

Twitter might be the forerunner in bringing the real time microblogging revolution to the masses. But it might well be,  that just like Che Guevara,  it won’t enjoy the fruits of the revolution it created.