April 30, 2008

Twitter : niche or mainstream ?

Hitwise has published a post on their blog about the US internet visits to twitter.com. The good news is that traffic is increasing. Year on year, Internet visits to Twitter.com are up 8 fold. In the past three months, visits have more than doubled and traffic continues to climb, up 60% in the past month. These figures look impressive, but still according to Hitwise, Twitter is ranked #439 among Social Networks and Forums last week and #4309 among All Categories of websites.

Twitter is especially very successful because of the openness of the APIs. Rumours are that there is more traffic to the APIs than traffic to the twitter.com website. This kind of traffic is probably never measured by companies such as Hitwise, Alexa, Compete or Quantcast (see this previous post for several traffic graphs for Twitter).

Heather Hopkins from Hitwise finishes her post with Whilst Twitter continues to be a niche website, it also continues to enjoy strong growth. At the same time Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb writes in a post titled Early Stats Show Twitter Taking Off in Japan : The signs are that Japanese Twitter usage is set to explode in popularity. .... Could Japan be the first country where Twitter usage becomes mainstream, rather than just being popular among geeks - as it is in the US and english speaking countries? Judging by these early stats, that's a good bet!

Is Twitter still a niche or is it becoming mainstream ? We'll have to wait a little bit to figure this out.

April 28, 2008


Twistory is a brand new Twitter mashup. Twistory allows you to visualize your Twitter archive in your calendar. The name Twistory refers both to Twitter and history. Tijs Vrolix, the guy behind Twistory, sees Twistory not as a new Twitter client, rather as a way to browse your own (and perhaps a small number of friends) Twitter archive.

Twistory is already been featured on TechCrunch, so it got already a lot of attention in the blogosphere and of course also in the twitosphere. If you want a beta invite, you can always ask Tijs.

1 million Twitter users according to Twitdir

Twitdir finally reported more than 1 million Twitter users, see the screenshot below.

I have been tracking the number of Twitter users reported by Twitdir for a while.

On January 6, 2008, I predicted that Twitter would reach 1 million public uers before April 1, 2008. Around mid February it seemed that the Twitter user base was growing faster than I expected. In the beginning of March however the growth slowed down.

The author of Twitdir announced last week on the Twitdir blog a new algorithm to follow the growth of Twitter users. This lead to an increase in the speed of Twitter users detected, as can be seen from on the graph below.

The reported slown down (around March 2008) is probably due to the old algorithm of Twitdir and not caused by a slowdown in the number of new Twitter users.

April 25, 2008

Steve Ballmer on Facebook

Well, this post isn't about Twitter, but I'd like to share it with the readers of this blog.

Microsoft Belgium organized yesterday the Mix Essentials event, where Belgian developers and designers could get a glance at the offerings Microsoft presented at MIX08. During the Mix Essentials event, Microsoft organised a press conference with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. Several bloggers were also invited at this press conference, including me. I had the opportunity to question Steve Ballmer on his experiences with social networks. A fellow blogger filmed my question and Steve Ballmer's answer - see the embedded movie below. Steve Ballmer confirmed that he has a "real" profile on Facebook, the one with the photo where he's hitting a golf ball. Steve Ballmer did not say anything on Twitter, not during the press conference and not during his keynote speech later that day. It seems to me extremely unlikely that he is behind one of the currently three Steve Ballmers accounts on Twitter.

The story that the real Steve Ballmer can be found on Facebook is currently making its tour on the Internet : e.g. ValleyWag and Reuters.

April 14, 2008

Twitter Account and Followers For Sale

Andrew Baron really loves his Twitter account, but he feels like he hasn't been using it the way he wants to. Instead of deleting his account, he decided it to sell on Ebay.

The latest bid is currently 1,125.00 USD. As Andrew Baron currently has 1,636 followers, this means that each follower is valuated at 0.69 USD.

The problem is that buying followers is like buying air. What do you really know about the followers of a Twitter account ? Can the buyer be sure that the information followers put in their profiles is correct ? Furthermore, what would the buyer be able to do with a list of followers from a bought Twitter account ? Are the followers part of the target audience for the goods or services you want to sell ? Will the buyer be able to sell something to them ? Can the buyer convert them into paying subscribers of whatever service ? Will the followers click on the ads on the buyers's site ? Will the followers remain followers or will they abandon ?

Will Ebay allow this sale of a digital good ? Will Twitter delete this account when the sale effectively takes place ? Who will be the next one to sell his Twitter account ?

There are clearly more questions than answers.

April 10, 2008

Twitter Traffic and Twitter Buzz

As the number of Twitter accounts seems to increase steadily - it is very likely that Twitter currently has over 1 million users - I had a look at various sources that could give an indication whether the traffic to Twitter's website is going up (or down) and whether the buzz in the blogosphere is going up (or down).

Is Twitter traffic going up ?

Alexa : worldwide traffic measured by the Alexa toolbar installed by users (only for Internet Explorer)

Compete : estimated site traffic based on the daily browsing activity of over 2,000,000 U.S. Internet users.

Quantcast : US traffic statistics obtained by panel estimates and direct measurements

Is Twitter buzz going up ?

Google Trends : search terms and news volume

BlogPulse : a blog search engine that also analyzes and reports on daily activity in the blogosphere

Technorati : a blog search engine currently tracking 112.8 million blogs

Icerocket : another blog search engine

Trendpedia : another blog trend tracker

Although the presented graphs differ in the definition of the metrics and have different timescales, I have the impression that the trends are going up. The future looks bright for Twitter. The question remains what Twitter's business model will be. As the increased traffic will undoubtly cause additional investments by Twitter Inc., it is completely unclear for Twitter users where Twitter Inc. gets its income.

April 1, 2008

Twitter id's and number of Twitter users

A comment on the previous post (1 million Twitter users) stated that "there are already a lot more than 12 million accounts on Twitter". The proof of this statement is given by information grabbed from the Twitterholic site.

Each Twitter account has its own Twitter id. You can easily find your own Twitter id by looking at the URL for the RSS feed for your Twitter account. In the early days of Twitter, Twitter id's were sequentially attributed. This made it easy to track the number of total Twitter accounts created (not necessary the number of active Twitter accounts). Jason Kottke published almost a year ago an article based on such stats.

Because of the growing popularity of Twitter, the Twitter developers decided to change the policy of generating Twitter id's by the end of November 2006. From that moment on there were gaps between the id's actually used. Assuming that the Twitter id of a new created Twitter account is equal the total number of Twitter accounts does not seem correct to me. The exact number of Twitter accounts created until now (and the number of active Twitter accounts) is only known by the people at Twitter Inc. And they haven't disclosed it until now ...

By the way, currently it is not possible to register Twitter names containing spaces. In the early days it was possible to register such Twitter names. Some of these names are still in use, e.g. twitter.com/there you go.