App developers that built their products around Twitter and are now looking to compete against the microblogging site face stiff competition, but can differentiate themselves by tapping their technical know-how and offering features that address Twitter's shortcomings.
UberMedia, for instance, is a third-party developer of apps running on Twitter and other social media platforms. It is reportedly planning to build a social network to challenge the microblogging site.
Citing sources close to the issue, CNN reported that UberMedia's new service would aim to address common user complaints about Twitter including the restriction on the length of a message.
Relationships between the two companies had appeared strained after Twitter suspended UberMedia's apps over violations related to privacy, trademark infringement and user content.
According to CNN, the app developer did not comment on the reported plans to build a competing Twitter service, though, UberMedia marketing head Steve Chadima was quoted to say: "Our foremost desire is to continue to innovate on the Twitter platform and bring more users and usage to Twitter."
If its plans materialize, it will face a tough time shaking Twitter's market dominance. Jake Wengroff, global director of social media strategy and research at Frost & Sullivan, said: "UberMedia certainly cannot challenge Twitter."
He told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that UberMedia and its products are merely distributors of a service that the company itself did not develop. He added that Twitter currently has 175 million users on a daily basis, with 30,000 tweets sent per minute.
It would be tough for another company to emulate Twitter's ability to grow such a massive audience in the four years it took to do so, he said.
That said, Wengroff noted that while UberMedia is no match for Twitter's market prowess, Twitter owes some of its success today to developers such as UberMedia, which provided users the tools to better enjoy the microblogging service.
But rather than challenging the microblogging giant, he said it would make more economic sense for UberMedia to find a way work with Twitter because it needs the platform to build third-party Twitter clients and services.
Differentiate by Twitter gaps
Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst of consumer mobility at ABI Research, however, believes UberMedia stands a decent chance in challenging Twitter because the app developer has the technical know-how to build new services that can effectively compete against Twitter.
Markkanen added that UberMedia currently serves many "power-tweeters" whom the company could try to convert to its own service.
To launch a successful challenge, he said the app developer needs to differentiate itself by addressing some of Twitter's issues such as allowing users to post tweets longer than 140 characters, making it more user-friendly for less-savvy new users, and making it easier to share links and multimedia content.
UberMedia last month reportedly attempted to acquire another third-party Twitter app developer, Tweetdeck.
Markkanen noted that this would have rattled some nerves at Twitter, had the deal gone through, as it would have given UberMedia a sizeable boost.
Earlier this week, various news reports revealed that Twitter had itself made an offer to buy TweetDeck for US$50 million. Neither company, though, has confirmed the deal.