My take on Eric Shmidt’s claim that Twitter is a ‘Poor man’s email’

By March 4, 2009Google, Twitter

Eric Schmidt has cooked up a storm in the blogcup with his comment yesterday that Twitter is a poor man’s email (e.g. see the Sillicon Alley Insider, Broadstuff, Search Engine Journal, or Battelle’s Searchblog).

On the face of it this would seem like the sort of inflammatory FUD that over the years we have gotten used to seeing from major tech vendors like Cisco and Microsoft – and my guess is that this initial impression is pretty close the mark.

Before I go any further it is worth repeating the points made by Battelle and others that Eric prefaced his remarks by saying he was speaking as a computer scientist and also went on to praise aspects of the Twitter service and it’s growth – so it is possible that what I’m about to write is unfair.

What I think is most likely is that Eric would have known the ‘poor man’s email’ quote would have been widely repeated and the context lost.

In which case there are two explanations:

  1. He has missed the asynchronous nature of Twitter’s communication AND the value fo the service as a source of content/for realtime search
  2. He is being deliberately disingenuous

Neither of those are good, and it seems like Google is more and more resembling the tech giants it used to so despise.