Well, it looks like the virtual space for micro blogging is literally getting cluttered, as many new players jump into the fray, for a show of one-upmanship in ‘blogosphere’. Many Twitter clones, wannabes as well as genuine competitors(so they say) like Plurk, Blauk, Qaiku and a lot others have surfaced, reminding Twitter that it may be the leader, but it surely is not the sole player in the game.
For the moment, Twitter is definitely miles ahead in the race. It has no real immediate dangers lurking nearby; it can still nibble on the lucrative micro-blogging pie, without as much looking behind their backs.
However, if it doesn’t improvise and come up with other attractive add-ons and ground-breaking features in the very near future, Twitter can as well forget its honeymoon with micro-blogging.
The faster, the better it will be for Twitter.
So who are these new gladiators, jumping into the ring, ready to challenge the high and mighty Twitter?
Well, they are quite a handful, counting the has-beens.
There were Jaiku, Pownce and some more… and now there are many more… the prominent ones being Blauk, Plurk and Qaiku.
How are they different from Twitter? What do they have that can wean users away from Twitter?
Blauk, based out of India and the newest kid on the block has a special focus, with a tagline that says, “I saw you there…and I thought…” Simply said, it’s all about other people, strangers to be specific. Sample this, ‘saw yu sipping a coke outside PVR Saket 2day aftn…black jeans, white T…yu r hot’. Launched in January 2010, it has managed to cobble up some 200,000 users. So, overtaking Twitter might be just a pipe dream for the moment…but one never knows.
Then there’s Plurk, another Twitter clone, where you put “your life, on the line”. Similar to Twitter in its basic functionalities, only it is put on a timeline, making it more conversational. It has colors for moods and the concept of karma, wherein, the more you use Plurk, the more karma, you get. Like pounce, you can embed Flickr images and Youtube videos too. Here, unlike Twitter, the updates are shown horizontally.
All in all, it is more fun and easy on the eyes than Twitter by a long haul. Presently based in Canada, it’s planning to shift their operation to Taiwan as it has lots of users in Asian countries like Hongkong, Singapore and Taiwan. So far, it has 5 million subscribers since its launch in 2008.
And then, there is Qaiku, a micro-blogging and lifestreaming service. Stated in 2009, it allows you to “Ask, find, share, discuss. Anywhere”. A Jaiku clone, similar in theme and layout, it too has friends (mutual following) and fans (one way following).
Jaiku, started in Finland in 2007, was cleaner and friendlier than Twitter that Google bought it to make its foray into the micro blogging space. However, forget innovative game-changing features (Google is good at it, right?); it never took off, as it failed to garner any substantial users. And with a whimper Jaiku went off the scene.
Amen to that.
Twitter, It Is.
So what is the moral of the story?
Most of the micro blogging/social networks that came to the scene after Twitter were/are better than Twitter in more ways than one. But, none succeeded.
Call it “the first mover’s advantage”, the head-start Twitter had by launching it in 2006, has made it the unchallenged Numero-Uno.
The simple truth is that Twitter is the most popular micro blogging network not because it is better than the others. It’s popular because it’s popular…call it the ‘herd culture or peer pressure’, you tweet because everyone tweets. And busy as we are… facebooking and twittering away every little time we can spare online, we just don’t have the time to check these new players out.
But, as they say, anything can happen… anything can happen, and well…a few months, or years down the line, a blauck, a plurk or a qaiku could be the Next Big Thing.
Well, till then, a tweet it is.