Your flagship product is our nice-to-have feature

Twitter has been adding a few new features to its core service recently, features that fold in what other startups have been trying to do in order to make using twitter easier. Little did these startups know, their flagship product was just user testing for Twitter to figure out what new features to add.

One of the features recently introduced is the Twitter URL shortening service ( which automatically shortens your urls, so there’s no need to go via the site and shorten your url there, then paste it over.

Here’s two great points about the impact of this feature based on this story from The Next Web:
– All twitter traffic will now be aggregated in your analytics so you can see the real reach of the platform.

On we already see the majority of our traffic coming from Twitter, with Facebook coming in a close second. However, we have noticed that bounce-rates for Twitter are higher as users are more likely to click on something just to see what it is, but those 140 characters can only do so much in terms of communicating what you’re about to open up.

– Twitter is now primed to launch an analytics product.

This is one of the key areas where startups have thrived in the Twitter ecosystem. We’ve seen lots of analytics software to help your brand understand its reach, or see the impact of a message. Now that Twitter has all links going through its own URL, it can collect the best data in order to deliver analytics.

The 2nd feature being integrated is image upload and sharing. Previously services like yfrog and instagram allowed you to seamlessly upload, store and share images. Now Twitter has rolled its own, where you can upload directly from its web interface.

Interestingly, we saw Apple introduce iCloud recently, taking cloud synchronisation (made easy and popular by startups like Dropbox) and turning it into a core feature integrated with their other flagship products (iTunes, iBooks, Pages).

So what does this mean for innovation and competition? It certainly drives up the stakes for these fledgeling startups and dares them to out-innovate the mothership.

Can twitpic, yfrog and Dropbox now develop even more amazing features and tie into other communities and platforms?

Also it’ll be interesting to see if first-to-market really means a new service can gain enough momentum to survive in the face of big competition, or will users just adopt the more integrated features if it means a few less clicks.




  1. The one advantage the URLs don’t seem to have is speed. Its a small bone to pick in the the context of all the advantages from analytics that will help people understand their true reach, but the urls are very slow.u00a0

  2. Platforms baking in their own versions of 3rd party tools certainly doesn’t kill innovation or competition in my opinion, but it does mean building on someone else’s platform should always be a short term strategy and you need to diversify as you can’t rely on being bought out.nnI’m sure I remember reading [Joel Spolsky|Paul Graham|Jason Calacanis] riffing on a similar theme, but the best my google-fu can manage right now is:u00a0

    • Was chatting with a colleague the other day about the potentials of developing a product that is solely reliant on one backbone platform (ie. twitter or facebook). It certainly increases your chances of being acquired by one of those platforms if they do decide to fold in your ‘feature set’… however, you’re hedging your bets in terms of being first and best-to-market with your product by trumping the competition.

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