The Internets are agog with speculation on numbers showing that the previously meteoric growth in Twitter users is beginning to sputter and slow down. Is this the end of the road for Twitter as the media darling? I’m not so sure.
First, Hubspot’s measurements show that the rate of growth is slowing, not that Twitter is in decline. Growth is still good, especially in this economy. While 13% is better than 4%, growing at all is good. Given the huge growth they have been having, I am not surprised that it is slowing, especially given the big surges that came from the plane landing on the Hudson, the Iranian protests and the Arrival of Oprah.
Second, while the number of users is not growing as fast as it was, many of the other indicators are positive. Users are more engaged, better behaved, and more spread out around the world. So while one number is down, all of the others showed improvement.
Third, so what if user growth is slowing down? It already has achieved a pretty good scale, enough to drive insights based on the constantly-growing real time content pool. Surely, bigger would be even better, but it’s already big enough to do interesting things.
Longer term, I think that a slowdown is inevitable. While Twitter is pre-eminent in North America, Australia and Europe, other players like Plurk, Me2day and Zuosa have had a chance to establish themselves in Asia. Facebook is busily adopting Twitter features. The market will inevitably split geographically and by interest group at some point. That doesn’t mean that it’s all over for Twitter, but it does mean that the microblogging market looks like it is starting to grow up.