There's been a lot of blogging regarding the future of Twitter in the last few days. My first encounter with the discussion was a post on The Brooks Review discussing the profitability of a charged service:
Imagine that Twitter’s estimated 200 million user base was asked to pay $6 a year to use the service (something that would amount to $0.50 a month). I would guess Twitter would lose some users — let’s be brutal and assume they lose 70% of users instantly. That leaves the service with about 60 million users – a large drop.That is 60 million paying users though, and at $0.50 each monthly that amounts to $30 million dollars in revenue each month. To put it another way: if Twitter charged users $0.50 a month and lost 70% of their user base, they would still make $21 million dollars more each month than I estimate they do with promoted tweets and trends.
It is a compelling argument, Twitter needs to monetise it's service and the current promotion system does not appear to be sufficiently profitable (and annoys users by most accounts). My issue with Twitter becoming a charged service is that it would have an effect on the service's usefulness for me. Some of Twitters function is purely social, and if Ben Brooks 70% user loss estimate is even half-accurate and we assume an even distribution of loss that equates to a huge lump of the people I follow - my primary reason for being a user to begin with.
Shawn Blanc hits this issue on the head:
Twitter is used by real people to share moments, ideas, and news with their family, friends, and the rest of the world. The more people who use Twitter the more valuable it becomes. And the company gets this...
Twitter is in an unenviable position in that generating revenue, whatever methods they employ is going to rub someone the wrong way. Advertisement is intrusive, charges exclude large sections of the user base... it has to be generating some more than heated discussions in-house.
So to end my quote-fest I'm going to leave you with another blog post that I can't fail to agree with wholeheartedly, and you only need the post title from Kyle Baxter (though I recommend reading the whole post):
Paying Isn't the Answer for Twitter: Creativity Is