Why Friendfeed failed and Twitter succeeded

By Partho, Gaea News Network
Thursday, October 29, 2009

twitter-friendfeed-friendfeedSan Fransisco: Twitter is the hottest social networking application when it comes to microblogging world way ahead of others. Taking up the challenge against Twitter was the a potentially threatening rival Friendfeed. In a majority of Twitter Vs Friendfeed discussions we encountered that the Silicon Valley’s geekerati’s were highly impressed with the more technologically sophisticated and feature-rich, Friendfeed. Although, Friendfeed has been backed by kudos from all corners, but  I could never see it neck-to-neck with Twitter. Even comparing Twitter and Friendfeed as Microsoft and Apple respectively, could be a metaphor of sorts, drawing to more than factual conclusion. Recently things took an abrupt turn when social networking ace Facebook acquired Friendfeed. What emerges from the turmoil is, Friendfeed could never pose any real threat to Twitter anymore and will they be able to take on Twitter under Facebook’s shadow? The site’s loyal users are still waiting for news about whether the social network and aggregator has a future.

We unearthed certain facts that reasons why Friendfeed is driven to a ambiguous future giving a walk-over to arch rival Twitter.

There some empirical assumptions working behind Friendfeed’s failure. Both Twitter and Friendfeed are life-streaming/microblogging tools that allows real-time updates - thought and data. However, there are some significant differences that sets them apart.  Twitter banks on its simplicity and ease-of-use. Friendfeed thrived on its pack of features. Given that, most mainstream web users crave for simplicity and intuitiveness in the internet tools. Friendfeed looks like a over-engineered and serpentine application to the non-techies. It’s quite like the internet version of Crazy Cube. This is one of the key reasons why Friendfeed failed to succeed while it was an independent service. FriendFeed aggregates any individual’s several feeds - Twitter feed, YouTube feed, Flickr photo feed — and allows them to track the same mixed collections of others.

With Facebook acquiring Friendfeed rumors circled that Web anticipating that the later is on the verge of death.

Is Friendfeed dead

Eversince joining Facebook there has been not much talks about the future of Friendfeed. It clearly signals that FriendFeed would play the Facebook equivilent of DodgeBall or Jaiku. If we say Friendfeed is dead, that doesn’t imply it’s stopped running, but it signifies that it’s not developing anymore.

More precisely, Friendfeed keeps up its commitment of running the site smoothly after joining Facebook and its doing so. But, it has lost the momentum and innovation. Friendfeed now lacks the zeal of its developers. Except a few releases like Apture, not much could be said about Friendfeed’s future. Most of the Friendfeed projects have been dropped so the future seems bleak for Friendfeed.

Crack in the wall

Reading between the lines of a scobleizer, I found the Friendfeed team has been split up and is working 100% on Facebook issues. The crack in the wall was quite eminent with Gary Burd quitting the scene leaving behind much grapewine talks.

Crawling threaded Conversation

Threaded conversations was the key area where Friendfeed ruled over Twitter. Friendfeed still offers threaded conversation. However, after the acquisition the conversation threads have largely slowed down and in some cases the threads just don’t proceed.

No-more an info-hub

Friendfeed was a great hub for information. It offered quite an amiable system that highlight interesting stuffs based on people’s comments on any particular item. The hands-on information were really useful. But that was all guided by the bulk of visitors on the site. With the traffic depleting there the source of information are drying up.

Under the Facebook shadow

When you enter Facebook, one of the vital things that tempt you is the similarity between Facebook and Friendfeed. There are similarities between Facebook functioning and that of Friendfeed. But there’s a crucial distinction between the two services. Facebook is essentially a social network for people you know and want to connect with, whereas FriendFeed was more about information sharing and conversation. Surely, most of the Friendfeed addicts would be missing out that part.

Twitter’s adding feathers

In the meantime, Twitter strives to add all the features that Friendfeed has and much more.  It has released a list of its new releases the includes most of the Friendfeed features.  The features had a reasonable say in Friendfeed’s popularity at large. These are the happy-hours for Twitter to allure Friendfeed’s annoyed followers.

What about Friendfeed’s future

At this moment I could remembers what the Silicon Valley pundits like Robert Scoble, Leo Laporte and Steve Gillmor once predicted

Friendfeed represents the next big thing in social media.

Friendfeed would always be the ace when we talk of real-time public and private conversation between subscribers, until someone matches that. The  ardent followers will still go back there to find old Tweets and old posts. Still when discussing the fate of the company it could be another Jaiku or Dodgeball story on the go. Typically, the giant service take over the smaller ones and proceeds to run the smaller one into the ground. Especially, with Facebook having over 300 million crowd its reasonable the Friendfeed growth would be compromised for bigger goals of the company.

Despite the situation, the Friendfeed loyals could see some light at the other end of the tunnel with co-founder Paul Buchheit’s remarks

There was a lot of chatter about the future of FriendFeed this weekend. The short answer is that the team is working on a couple of longer-term projects that will help bring FriendFeedy goodness to the larger world. Transformation is not the end. Consider this the chrysalis stage — if all goes well, a beautiful butterfly will emerge

Again, reading between the lines, bring FriendFeedy goodness to the larger world, as Techcrunch anticipates; it seems that they would be going for open sourcing. Open-sourcing FriendFeed or its APIs could be an intelligent move, but for the end users things would be more intricate than ever before as they would be spoiled for choices.

While Friendfeed seems in deep waters, Twitter is moving at a rocketing pace - 949 percent increase from a year ago, 58.4 million worldwide vistors.


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October 29, 2009: 4:55 pm


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October 29, 2009: 12:32 pm

Getting bought by fb doesn’t sound like a failure…

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