Saturday, 21 April 2007

More Twitter Speculation

There has been some recent speculation about the possibility of Twitter usernames being traded like domain names in the near future. I'm not aware of any that have been traded so far. Nic Cubrilovic raised the issue back at the end of March, and Steve Poland, author of Techquila Shots also picked up on it.

The issue has emerged because Twitter usernames are unique (what usernames aren't), so it could be argued that they could become quite valuable if the service is a runaway success. People may begin selling them to each other, especially some of the more desirable generic names.

Cubrilovic suggested that Twitter missed out on an opportunity by not reserving generic keywords ahead of time, to be auctioned as a way of providing a solid revenue model. He has suggested that it is now too late, as numerous services are being built and many speculative users have ’squatted’ (or is that squitted) on potentially valuable keywords.

It does seem to be the case that Twitter has the right to delete an account, or to take back generic keywords if it chooses to do so. No doubt this would be controversial, but still possible as usernames are not the same as domain names.

The question is, could keyword speculators go in and grab usernames in anticipation of the site becoming very popular, adding little value in the way of content and making the site less valuable that is otherwise would be? Clearly, many generic names have now been taken, with very little activity in most of the accounts.

However, other brand related usernames are already starting to be used. They don't have huge followings, but it's still early days:

twitter.com/bbcworldservice
twitter.com/cnnbrk
http://twitter.com/nytimes
http://twitter.com/technorati
http://twitter.com/CNETNews
http://twitter.com/woot

On a side note, some well known bloggers have developed substantial followings already:
http://twitter.com/Scobleizer
http://twitter.com/steverubel

It is interesting to note that YouTube and MySpace accounts have not (to my knowledge) been traded between users or sold by the companies, but here are just a few examples of YouTube profiles being used in a commercial manner. Although I'm comparing apples with pears, no doubt we will start to see similar things happening with Twitter in the future, if it stays around.

http://www.youtube.com/nbc
http://www.youtube.com/cbs
http://www.youtube.com/hammerandcoop
http://www.youtube.com/parishilton

What are your thoughts?

2 comments:

whatsnext said...

you cannot register www.twitter.com/cnn.com, etc.

jj said...

No, I know. I'm talking about the usernames and therefore profiles, such as twitter.com/cnn.

The point is that the username and profile may be financially valuable if it attracts enough followers or subscribers.

The same theory would apply to YouTube profiles (or channels as they are called). Could these be bought and sold at some point. Theoretically, some of these profiles and channels could attract tens of thousands of regular subscribers.