TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop: Racing To The Bottom?

Twitter was buzzing last night as the latest version of free Twitter client TweetDeck was launched, to fairly universal acclaim.

Mashable has a detailed run-down of the new Tweetdeck features, and a good comparison of the new version with its closest competitor, Seesmic Desktop. In a nutshell, the big-name new features are:

  • A new TweetDeck iPhone app;
  • Support for multiple Twitter accounts;
  • The ability to synchronize accounts across multiple computers and the mobile app;
  • The option to save groups and searches for future use when removing them from your screen.

There’s plenty more, but those are the key functions from my perspective.

Amidst the geeky excitement of a new, improved application for use with Twitter, though, I have one concern:

Are these free apps racing themselves to the bottom?

Is this race for new functionality going to eventually drive these free services out of business?

Here’s my thinking:

  • Right now neither TweetDeck nor Seesmic Desktop generate revenue from their apps.
  • Neither ‘main’ app seems to have a critical mass of users. Fickle audiences flit back and forth between the applications as one gains advantage over the other. 
  • Minimal barriers to entry mean that, at any time, a new application could emerge to challenge the big two (as Seesmic Desktop did, out of the ashes of Twhirl, not so long ago). 
  • Only “power users” will get a lot out of these features. I certainly appreciate the feature, and the power users are the ones with a loud voice, but most people frankly don’t need multiple accounts.
  • If either app tries to charge users without introducing a killer, unreplicable new feature, users will simply switch to the other.

Where does this leave us? Two companies engaged in an endless race for features that benefit very few people, while not being able to monetize their products.

What’s the end game? Being bought-out by Twitter or another company? That’s bubble thinking, not recession planning. I really don’t know the answer.

What do you think?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.