Microsoft Can Clone Twitter?!

In a response to Microsoft watcher Todd Bishop’s post saying  Microsoft should buy Twitter, Mary Jo-Foley wrote Microsoft Shouldn’t Buy Twitter saying:

…But I’d argue Microsoft could simply do a Twitter clone — the same way that it has built its own Facebook-notification-like news stream into Windows Live — and reap similar results. In fact, the Softies are hinting they’ve already been experimenting with adding Twitter-like functionality to its business software (possibly via SharePoint). I’d bet the Xbox and maybe the Pink/Danger mobile teams have been looking at doing their own Twitter-like services too.

Seriously?! Microsoft could simply clone Twitter?!

Sure, Microsoft certainly has some brilliant tech folks that can surely implement or clone anything. It also has the resources to do that.
And yet, its mostly following the pack with its online offering pretty stagnant. Last time it tried anything like that was Live Home with its Facebook\FriendFeed like functionality and that’s pretty much dead
It can certainly clone Twitter, probably even do a better job at it than the original, but will anyone bother using it?

Twitter has a fast growing, huge and vibrant community. Its also a well known brand name that’s getting a huge amount of media attention right now.
It survived its own fail whales, upgrade owls and all sorts of other nasty service downtimes simply because no one else can beat that…
You can clone technology but you can’t clone a community and brand strength…

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2 Responses

  1. Ben Volach says:

    I totally agree cloning a service is not just building the best technology. Microsoft however, did prove in the past that they can clone a service. They’ve started to get traction for their Instant Messaging community years after AOL and ICQ dominated the market. For the right price-tag, it seems Microsoft could benefit a lot from acquisitions of the right web communities, such as Twitter, and integration into their online services cloud.

    Facebook are also making efforts to clone Twitter, and Facebook is in a great position to do it. The other social networks will eventually follow.

  2. ekampf says:

    They’ve started to get traction for their Instant Messaging community years after AOL and ICQ dominated the market.

    True. But Microsoft had 2 big advantages here:
    1. It could bundle Messenger with Windows.
    2. Its competition didn’t put up a fight. AOL pretty much killed ICQ. Or better said, didn’t do anything with it and just let it die (I dont know anyone using it… Although I’m hearing its still quite popular among teenagers in Europe…). Not even GTalk (which was dubbed a Microsoft Killer at the time)

    Those advantages do not play a role here, and with the recent disbanding of its Live Labs group (link) I don’t think we’ll be seeing any web innovation\experimental projects from Microsoft anytime soon…

    As for Facebook vs. Twitter… it should be interesting :)