Building a Twitter clone : Live Framework
In a recent blog entry I chastised (rather rudely I must admit) Mary-Jo Foley for her assertion that:
Microsoft could simply do a Twitter clone … and reap similar results
My point was that it doesn’t matter whether or not Microsoft could build a service with the same features, Twitter have already stolen a march because they got there first and already have the all-important footfall which is only going to increase thanks to the network effect.
Nonetheless I’ve been considering how one could build a near-Twitter-clone because it maps very well onto a technology that has been interesting me of late. That particular technology, the Live Framework (currently in beta), in concert with Windows Live Messenger collectively contain all the necessary pieces required to build a Twitter clone as I’ll explain.
Live Messenger has the notion of a personal status message (PSM) that is very similar to the notion of a tweet in that it is a short textual message that a user sets and is stored in a data centre somewhere. A user’s PSM is accessible using the Live Framework as ably demonstrated by Scott Lovegrove in his blog entry LiveFX + Windows Live ID Client SDK = Safer Program.
Whilst Live Messenger enables a user to have a personal status message it doesn’t store a history of them which is basically the whole premise of Twitter and that is where the ability to access the PSM via the Live Framework comes in. It would be eminently possible for a 3rd party application to implement a resource script that copied each new occurrence of a PSM to a data store somewhere within Live Mesh. That 3rd party application then accesses that data store (for which it has been delegated the authority to do) and aggregates all of the users’ PSMs on a website in exactly the same way that Twitter does.
The notion of “following” someone is already built-in – we simply follow our Live Messenger buddies. Given that Twitter currently has approximately 7million members where Windows Live has over half a billion this is one area where Microsoft already have the advantage.
I’m not saying all this would be straightforward but neither would it be the most complex service ever implemented either. If anyone wants to pay me and some friends to build it then get in touch 🙂
P.S. I wrote a blog entry Microsoft Presence. A rival to Twitter? back in September 2007 where I reasoned that Microsoft could build a Twitter-compete using Live Messenger. They didn’t do that and now its reall rather too lat!