Where Are the Rivals to Facebook and Twitter?

With all the attention being lavished on how Facebook and Twitter have become mainstream tools, one thing that doesn’t get much attention is the lack of competition.

Facebook has a few rivals, the biggest being the increasingly irrelevant MySpace. Meanwhile, Twitter has the micro-blogging market to itself after vanquishing Pownce, which was a much better service before it disappeared into the belly of TypePad.

In essence, there is no competition. And even more strange, there aren’t many start-ups willing to take on the two social media giants. Compare this situation to the search engine market where the presence of Goliath – aka Google – has done little to deter a never-ending number of start-ups from throwing their hats and millions of dollars of venture capital into the ring.

Even YouTube has healthy competition, although the distance between it and second-place player, Vimeo, is huge.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter have the playground to themselves. Now, I can understand how start-ups may be reluctant to take on Facebook given its size but Twitter strikes me as ripe for the picking.

First, Twitter is far from perfect. If it wasn’t for the thousands of third-party players offering valuable, cool and entertaining services, Twitter would be like a ice cream store that only offered chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. And although Twitter has pretty solid infrastructure now (knock on wood!), its feature set is, at best, modest.

Given this situation, you figure that someone would have the chutzpah to come up with a better micro-blogging service that provide consumers with an option to consider. The service would have to be solid and come with a few interesting features but it wouldn’t take much to tempt many people looking for next new shiny toy.

Maybe Facebook and Twitter are simply too large for anyone to take on. Maybe the communities and connections that people have on Facebook and Twitter are too entrenched for people to take a chance on a new player.

But it does seem strange that there’s pretty much a competitive void at a time when most markets are teeming with start-ups willing to take a shot at taking down Goliath.

5 Comments on “Where Are the Rivals to Facebook and Twitter?”

  1. To usurp either platform someone has to exploit an existing flaw or fill a gaping need. There will be new services that appeal to niche audiences. However, as people become more familiar with Twitter and Facebook, as they make it more a part of their regular routine – it will be harder to move them to a new platform where they will have to start all over. I am not saying this couldn’t happen but the longer these two platforms go unchallenged the harder it will be to topple them. Chances are they will eventually sow the seeds of their own demise by losing sight of their core benefits. Great companies are rarely toppled – they often crumble from within.

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  3. There can be quite a learning curve to get up to speed with Facebook and Twitter or any social media network for it to be beneficial and efficient. Once that time and personal effort is invested, you learn to work with and work around any limitations in the existing platform. I think a rival service would have to offer significant improvements over the status quo for people to consider switching and embarking on a new learning curve. No doubt this will happen eventually as social media evolves.

  4. I agree that it is the third party involvement that has kept twitter alive. Free applications to measure analytics and easier control of targeted messages to the right audience. Working for a small company if it isn’t free or less than $10 it’s not worth it. As for facebook it is not friendly towards businesses. The design of company pages does not allow flexibility. This is where the gap is. If a facebook like site was set up so that businesses can more easily have direct communications with customers this could gain in popularity. Facebook has either deliberately held this area with tight reins or has not put enough effort. If facebook is social and just for loading holiday photos and telling people what you had for breakfast, then there needs to be a site that drives consumers to it and incentivizes the public to interact and become fans.

  5. If ever there are other possible rivals to Twitter and Facebook, it might take a little bit longer for people to migrate to those new programs. As these social networks had entwined business and pleasure, it would take a pretty potent application and undeniable feature to seduce others from taking their business elsewhere.

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