Cody Brown, a Rails developer, online publisher and student at NYU, has some interesting analysis of Twitter to share on his blog.
Twitter and Myspace are different companies in different markets but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that they share, and will always share, the exact same problem. MySpace and Twitter are hugely popular for uses neither company anticipated. The mission of each company is so vague that their products are stretched and molded into a variety of different uses. Instead of targeting and building their business around one of these users they take their sudden popularity as a sign they have a killer product. They don’t.
I like the ‘tude, but there’s another school of thought that says, let the consumer decide what’s great (if anything) about your product. And who cares what you thought you built, as long as you built something that people use and enjoy (for whatever purpose under the sun)?
Site members sometimes make a single use of a platform like Twitter or MySpace on their own accord. For instance, for me MySpace is all music all the time. Others use Twitter as a social bookmarking service instead of Delicious. What Brown is driving at is the fact that MySpace and Twitter would be better sites if they picked a path and stuck to it. For instance, if MySpace chose to be the world’s best music discovery engine, that might save it from its current slide into oblivion.
What do you think? Is it important for an information service to narrow its focus to better serve a niche audience?