I’ve seen a few news stories pointing out that Twitter, which has seen amazing uptake but little in terms of revenue streams, might be looking to create a paid service for businesses.
This brings up a lot of questions.
First, will businesses that are currently leveraging Twitter be locked out until they fork up some cash?
What will the additional features and add-ons look like that will make it worth the subscription fee? (I’m guessing it would be a subscription-based model.)
I mean, already there is a huge amount of free services, like Tweetdeck and this freaky modeling tool that allows you to see who and how people are talking about your brand. So, where is the value in paying?
If Twitter plays the bait and switch game for businesses, while keeping it free for individuals – that could maybe work. After all, its the individuals using the service that the corporations are trying to reach. Who knows…
In the end, the problem with Twitter is that it is too easy to use, too useful, and too democratic for its own good. Imagine if you invented text messaging – or even the Internet (No, I don’t think Al Gore reads Outsiders…) – how do you monetize something that has become ubiquitous as a platform, and perceived as an enabling technology, but not a paid-for commodity from day one?
I think Twitter needed to think about this prior to its already huge stature, get in bed with device manufacturers and other firms like Yahoo and Google – and then it could have limited access, but proven value, and the floodgates of a use-based pricing model might have made sense. Maybe not…too late to tell anyway. Right now, the only potential for revenue seems to be with those already making cool add-ons.
The cat is out of the bag, and it is going to be interesting to see if Twitter or micro-blogging as a generic concept does not go the way of a hugely open source project: an cloud-based mega-engine that is maintained by the interested parties (users, companies, marketers, Google, etc.) as a donation-based organization, while other companies look to monetize the search, monitoring and advertising performed through Twitter.
Stranger things have happened.