Shawn Blanc in response to my “Twi$$er” ((The title of which has really been messing with Twitter itself and how it tries to pickup stupid things when you use a “$”. It has been quite funny to see how Twitter is screwing with this title.)) article, has this to say about Twitter in a footnote about his own article on the subject:
It’s an article observing what Twitter as a company sees as their most important goals, and how, in some ways, nobility and ubiquity have become of higher value than profitability.
Sure, I can see that argument — but there is no value in a service that dies next year because they can’t afford to keep running it. I highly doubt the U.S. government, or any other, see the “value” in Twitter to the point that they would “bail” Twitter out.
Though Shawn knows that Twitter needs money to keep going, he also adds this to the discussion:
It would be regrettable if those who cannot pay were locked out from using one of the most powerful tools for global communication and information sharing there has ever been. The NPR writer adds that “Twitter purposefully allows everyone access because information — both good and bad — should be allowed to flow freely.”
I agree with that general notion — I truly do — but it is a heavily flawed view. The mail system is vital, yet it costs money to send a letter. The phone is crucial to the world, twice over, yet it costs money to place a phone call. The Internet is perhaps the most vital communication tool yet conceived by man, yet it costs money to gain access too. Power and water are also vital and, thus, we pay for them as well. Don’t forget that you must already pay to get on the Internet before you can even get to Twitter.
I agree with Shawn that it would be ideal for Twitter to remain free and thus “open” for anyone to use. But, I don’t think it is viable and therefore I would rather pay for Twitter and subsequently exclude users — especially when the alternative would be Twitter going away.
This is a great take by Shawn and I really do agree with it — I just don’t think it is possible and the reason I don’t think it is possible is stated clearly by Shawn:
However, Twitter is not trying to answer the question of who would or would not stay and pay. They are trying to find a business model that will support those who cannot pay so even more of them will sign up.
I think the tried and true method to support people who can’t pay is, and always has been, for those who can pay to subsidize that cost. Whether by making food stamps and shelter available this has been the U.S. way for quite some time. What I am saying is that as stupid as the “Pro” account model is — it very clearly subsidizes the cost for most ‘non-paying’ users.
I think what everyone is forgetting is that Twitter isn’t trying to make the service free so those who can’t pay will continue to use Twitter, but they are trying to make it free for everyone — that way there is no room for competition.