Knock-offs, Imitators and Niche Micro-blogging Services Abound but Twitter Still Rules
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Knock-offs, Imitators and Niche Micro-blogging Services Abound but Twitter Still Rules

While there may be many imitators, knock-offs and niche micro-blogging platforms, they haven't quite measured up to Twitter.

How many different ways can one cram their content into less than 140 characters? Initially, it used to be that Twitter was the one location to stop and babble about one's day in tiny little bites. With the increase in micro-blogging popularity, enterprising individuals are attempting to broaden the game by creating their own niche micro-texting services.

In a quick little nutshell for those who may not be in the know, micro-blogging is a bit like instant messaging with the exception that it is done in real-time with hundreds upon thousands of other like-minded individuals breathlessly anticipating the next tiny text bite. Usually the text to be sent is limited to 140 characters and is either sent out to the general viewing public, specifically directed to individuals or even sent privately.

Twitter is the big gun in the micro-blogging world and has been the inspiration for dozens of knock-offs, imitations and niche marketing services.

One of the first companies to build a product similar to Twitter was Laconi.ca (now known as Status.net). This company, founded by Evan Prodromou, created the first open-source micro-blogging product – Identi.ca. Identi.ca supports XMPP and allows for the free export and exchange of personal data based on the FOAF (Friend of a friend) standard. In almost every regard it is the same as Twitter with the exception of it being created as an open-source solution, allowing users to set up their very own service.

Imitators abound when it comes to micro-blogging services. Jaiku, Qaiku, and NotePub are a few of those who tried to be the next Twitter but just never quite pulled it off. These services do have their loyal fans. However, the numbers just do not quite add up to the same as Twitter.

Since the outbreak of “one-off” micro-blogging services, a number of niche services have arisen. Niche micro-blogging limits its services to a particular group, idea or even location. As such, these services are not in competition with the likes of Twitter. Rather, they simply provide a communication service that caters to a specific portion of the Web browsing community.

A perfect example of a niche micro-blogging web site is Sprouter. Sprouter works with the same 140 character limits and uses hash tags like Twitter. Where Sprouter differs from Twitter is by offering a service catering specifically to entrepreneurs. Users can connect and communicate with other like-minded individuals, build on innovative ideas and share local events.

Shout'em is another niche-styled micro-blogging service. Users create their own networks, allowing for some highly specific topical chatting. The service's design can be edited and changed. It allows for setting up with a domain name and can be integrated into an existing web site or application using the service's Twitter-compatible API. This service even goes one step further by offering a corporate networking solution (Shout'em's web site states this is coming soon).

All said, the knock-offs, imitators, and niche services do have one common theme – smaller audience numbers. While this is not necessarily a terrible thing with respect to niche micro-blogging, those services who wish to compete with the likes of Twitter will need to stand out and offer something Twitter does not.

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Comments (3)

If nothing else Twitter teaches peeps to be succinct in their words. The abridged version please. :-)

Ranked #25 in Twitter

No kidding! Unfortunately, it's also had the bad effect of making people talk more :)

Ranked #28 in Twitter

Hehe, nice one! With something that popular there's bound to be a knockoff or two =)

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