One of the sidenotes of Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote was Twitter's performance problem--especially since some folks were depending on it to live blog. The incident raises a question about Twitter: Does it have to be industrial strength to be taken seriously?
Some folks say the answer to that question is a definitive "yes." They argue that Twitter's real value is during emergencies and big news events. That's crunch time for Twitter. If it can't be used during big events what's the point? Twitter has to be as reliable as instant messaging but more portable.
While that take has some merit it's not like the folks at Twitter initially cooked the application up to be an emergency microcast service. Twitter is a classic case of a neat little tool that wasn't built to scale but now has to because it has become a big deal.
Fortunately, the Twitter folks are on the case--whether they have the funds and business model to scale up for the few times Jobs speaks to the masses is another issue entirely.
Twitter's challenge is to build a rock-solid network so it doesn't have to post these messages:
Twitter is currently experiencing some slowness related to the massive number of updates around Steve Job's keynote at MacWorld.
Fortunately, Twitter has hired a president of engineering and operations to figure this enterprise-class reliability thing out. But it's not like Twitter has an army of engineers.
Twitter said in a blog post:
Macworld is only one event, in one city. Twitter must be reliable around the world, around the clock, and it must accommodate all sudden bursts of real-time messages—everything from Apple announcements to natural disasters.
At stake is a business model. If Twitter gets 99.999 percent reliability other opportunities will open up. Will people pay $20 a month for an industrial Twitter?