Dave Winer is wrong and right about Twitter (comparing hype storms after the fact)

Dave Winer wrote an interesting piece about Twitter and Facebook and the relative hype of their press conferences.

He says I will get all breathless about Google in a couple of weeks when they have their product announcements, the same way I got breathless about Facebook.

Sorry, I doubt it. Google has squandered its vision over the last few product announcements. Google Wave? Google Buzz? Google Phone? Please. Fool me three times, I’m an idiot, OK. But I won’t fall for the fourth.

But Dave is right. Ignore the first week’s worth of coverage of ANYTHING. The truth actually shows itself after that. My old boss at Microsoft, Jeff Sandquist, used to write about whether he kept using something cool after a week.

So, let’s look at the press events of the past month:

Apple iPad release. Started a little slow, but now the geeks in Israel, are showing me their iPad apps and are excited. Everyone wants to touch the iPad and even the cynics want one. In other words, the product stood up to the hype.

Twitter news announcements. They showed off several things: new monetization model called Promoted Tweets. New metadata API called Annotations. New @anywhere. Now, has anyone this weekend in Israel talked to me about any of this stuff? No. In fact, the developers I’m hanging out with, when pushed to talk about Twitter, visibly yawn. Where did Twitter go wrong? First, Ev Williams didn’t announce the news. He let his employees announce the news after his keynote. And worse they didn’t ship the coolest feature, annotations, and still haven’t. Twitter’s @anywhere platform hasn’t gotten that much pickup, at least not when compared with Facebook like buttons, and developers I’ve talked to who have tried implementing it say it doesn’t do that much that’s interesting. In other words, Twitter didn’t announce much interesting news and didn’t ship the most interesting stuff and haven’t caught developer’s attention.

Facebook news announcements. When Zuckerberg was on stage he announced several big announcements, ones that we are continuing to talk about. New like buttons. Turning off the 24-hour limit on keeping data on your own systems. Sharing of data so that apps like Pandora can now show what your friends are talking about. Etc etc. These are huge announcements, much bigger than anything Twitter announced on their face, but even better they not only turned on all the features that morning but had tons of interesting customers who had already implemented them. I interviewed the NHL’s geeks who had already added these buttons. I interviewed Pandora’s CTO who had already added social features to his app. Other people had Levis to talk with, among other major companies. I just talked with the CEO of a top-50 website who is turning on Facebook features next week. He isn’t considering Twitter features. In other words, Facebook’s

So, when Dave Winer says that these companies get press because they went to Davos with me or something like that he is missing the point and judging me improperly. I’ve been pretty right on about these things BECAUSE I listen to developers AFTER the hype storm is over. This is why I follow 18,000+ geeks, VCs, press people, developers, and why I go to lots of events around the world to keep my finger on the real pulse and make sure that my opinions match the truth of what’s happening on the ground.

If Google announces something significant, yes, we’ll cover that too, but I’m getting more and more skeptical about Google’s chances. Here in Israel I heard the words “arrogant” “not innovative” and “incompetent” for the first time applied to Google. That’s a HUGE shift in on-the-ground perceptions for Google and one they should worry about a lot. The opposite words are being applied to Apple and Facebook and Twitter is just seen as “meh” here.

On the other hand, Dave Winer is totally right about what Twitter needs to do to capture the attention of geeks. Open up. Let us build our own Twitters. Let us leave with our data like I could with WordPress (note that I moved from WordPress.com to a hosted WordPress running over on the Rackspace Cloud with not too much trouble — why can’t I do that with Twitter?)

Oh, and Dave is a great friend. We fight like this all the time and generally Dave is right, but here I felt I had to speak up and spank him on the hand for being wrong about why these companies got the press that they do.


The blacked-out world of music

Here in Israel I can’t get Pandora. I can’t get Spotify. I can’t get iTunes.

I’m learning about the blacked out world of music where millions, if not billions, of people are not able to buy music because it simply is not available.

What does this cause?

Well, here in Kinneret, Israel, I’m sitting with Ayelet Yagil, who runs the music section of ynet.co.il the news site most popular in Israel with about a million daily readers.

“I want to give my $.99 to the music company but I can’t. There is no legal way for me to get new music. So I go to Soulseek [a file sharing site] and take the song.”

Attempts to do an Israeli version with only Israeli songs failed. “That always fell through because of differences between the record companies,” Yagil says.

The interesting thing is the music industry HAS figured out how to work with mobile carriers in the Middle East and downloading of music onto your mobile phone is huge, but the music labels, Yagil says, can’t get along long enough to figure out a business model to open up to the Web.

So, we all remain in the dark and the music industry leaves hundreds of millions of dollars on the table and forces those in the blacked-out-world of music to steal.

That’s criminal.