December 10, 2008

Friendfeed vs Twitter - Is this the new Mac/PC debate?

I recently read a wonderful post by Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) where he was enumerating the relative benefits of Twitter over FF. Having read this a little closer (and knowing Scoble's predeliction for FF) I realised that it was a very tongue-in-cheek attempt to convert Twitter users to FF ("FriendFeed doesn’t have Direct Messaging. Twitter does. Twitter FTW!").

Despite that there is - from my personal experience - a marked leaning toward Twitter for a lot of people. I wonder why that is?

I think the Twitter "community" is bigger than FF. I don't know the figures for FF but I know that Twitter is growing exponentially. Tweets to the Twittersphere are higher in volume. In terms of market share it is 'the market leader'

But it's not necessarily the best.

Twitter has LOTS of 3rd party apps to add to it to 'improve it'. These include apps such as Tweetdeck, iTweet2, Twhirl etc. FF has, basically, FF. You do what you need to do and FF will add the functionality you need to be more efficient. For example in FF you can group your Friends into classifications according to how you want to view them. You can join 'rooms' where specific topics are discussed. You can do a detailed search of all the content being updated. You can stream real-time. In Twitter you can.. Tweet.

Twitter needs the third party apps to make it the useful app it can be (how many of you can honestly say you use Twitter only through the web interface..?). Twitter have taken the approach of 'We'll provide the platform for you, it's up to others to leverage that'. FF has followed the wishes of its users and added functionality to make it useful.

I believe the mass market view is that Twitter is the tool of choice. I also, believe the cognoscenti use FF as their tool of choice. Scoble, Louis Gray, Leo Laporte, Jason Calacanis, etc. are all active posters to FF. Somewhere in the middle of that is a set of fanatics and evangalists for FF who are trying to persuade the world and his friend that FF is the way to go.

The aim in writing this was not to try and fan the flames of "Twitter vs Friendfeed', but as I look at the FF/Twitter debate I am reminded of another ongoing discussion we hear a lot about. Look at the facts:

We have two products working in the same space with markedly different approaches. One provides out of the box functionality that its users evanglise about. The other provides mass market appeal but needs add-on's to make it perform as well as it can. Both have supporters who wish to denigrate the other side and prove their choice is the 'right' one.

For years now the zealots have been debating the relative merits of Macintosh computers and OS vs Windows based computers/OS. It seems that on both sides of the argument there are fanatical people who will not understand that there is a time and a place for each one (For the record I have both).

Could it be that FF is the new Mac and Twitter is the new PC?

Thoughts and feedback in the comments, please.

(Image Courtesy of Carrotcreative. Used under a Creative Commons, Attribution license)

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  1. It is my opinion that FriendFeed and Twitter are complementary tools that work well together. FriendFeed integrates Twitter updates, and you can respond directly to Twitter from FriendFeed. I happen to prefer a lot of the elements of FriendFeed, including conversations, lists, images, video, etc., but little beats Twitter in terms of sending out quick updates immediately.

  2. @Louis Agreed. These services can co-exist. Each fills a particular niche. For me, twitter is microblogging where FriendFeed is about creating a conversation around content. Conversation in twitter seem more haphazard. I feel like I stumble into dialog there, and I'm lucky if I derive any value from it. There's a lot of valuable one-way communication however. FriendFeed seems to encourage back and forth.

  3. The both of them definitely work well with together. No way is it Mac vs. PC. Twitter is great for conversation. Maybe the most vital tool outside of email. FriendFeed shows me the conversation as well as depth of each person I follow. What types of pix they take and post. What music they listen to. Where they go. What articles interest them. What films and books are on their list. And since social media is about relationships, this enables you to get a headstart in our quest to know each other.