A Revenue Model for Twitter

So in the past couple months, I have realized that I am fully capable of being completely addicted to Twitter. I have a tendency of thinking and doing too many things at once (like writing different things with both hands at the same time, and Hulahooping while doing DDR), and Twitter sort of appeals to my ADD tendencies, no sense of privacy, and the need to connect with the world. Twitter is pretty awesome.

Interestingly, Twitter only needs to build its core competency, while there are over 250 OTHER websites out there that help Twitter build more advanced features. There are sites that organize your friends, see your influence on twitter, use twitter on your desktop or phone, take pictures to twitter, see who you should follow, see what clients your friends use for twitter etc etc. Most sites need to cramp out their design while adding features that may or may not work. Twitter just keeps its constraints (the three principles of twitter: simplicity, constraint, and craftsmanship), and have the rest of the sites build its advanced features. I don’t think ANY other site out there has something like this.

With all this hype, its been a constant issue regarding how Twitter will monetize it, just like all the other sites that looked nice but died later on. Everyone’s watching how Twitter will make money. A company is not in business if it doesn’t make money.

However, I will explain in this post why This Dude is wrong.

Twitter users are obsessed with Twitter. Their quality of lives will decrease significantly when Twitter dies. There’s no substitute because there are true bonds on twitter (unless you import all followers to another service). Most important, there are plenty of revenue models that Twitter COULD adapt to if they aren’t afraid of pissing off the casual users (kinda like laying off your employees….laying off your casual customers?)

Today I was using TweetDeck (highly recommended), and after some usage, it told me that my Twitter API Limit has been exceeded. This happened a few times to me in the past week as I start to use Twitter a little bit more often. It turns out that Twitter allows each ACCOUNT 100 API calls per hour. This counts when you import your tweets onto your blog, when you see an updated list of your tweeples, when you look at other tweeples’ profiles etc etc. When you click “refresh” on Tweetdeck, it actually takes up 3 calls (DM, Reply, All Tweets). This means as more people use API clients for their various purposes, more people will meet that 100 limit frequently.

I really don’t think I was using TweetDeck THAT much, but after having it on my blog, tweetdeck, and phone, I needed to sit and wait for another 40 minutes before I could use Twitter through Tweetdeck again! So I hate to point this out since I don’t want to see it happen, but at this point I believe the best Twitter revenue model is to charge a small fee for premier accounts regarding API Limits. Maybe $2 a month to expand one’s limit to 150, $5 a month for those who want a limit of 200, and $10 for a no limit account.The benefit of this structure is that you only tailor to the hardcore users. You still allow normal users and new users to get addicted to the site seemlessly. Sooner or later, they will become hardcore users. And trust me, only the very hardcore users who use a lot of “Twipper Apps” and services will need it.

Now going over the 200 limit is impossible you may say. But trust me, its realistic in the future. As people integrate more twitter apps and services seamlessly into their lifestyle, they WILL need a much higher limit. I’m JUST getting more involved with twitter, and I already struck the limit upon 20 minutes into the hour. I then tried to use Twubble, but it also told me my API Limit was exceeded. Since my twitter flow was interrupted, I kinda just drifted unproductively on the internet before doing anything else. As time goes by, people will need a higher API Limit. Trust me. I wonder if Guy Kawasaki has felt any APIL annoyance yet. (Btw, “Apple” sounds pretty good)

So yea, I hate to introduce ways that Twitter could charge me, but I would hate it even more if Twitter had to go away like Pownce. Twitter will become an important communication tool in the future. How much do you pay for your phone and texting again?

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