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Twitter vs CB Radio: What Makes These Mobile Services So Popular

Cb_radioSince its debut 14 months ago at the SXSW conference, Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds. Twitter aims to be an everyday communication utility: you use your phone or PC to share short updates about your daily life.

Businesses are starting to use Twitter for customer service. Business Week tested nine companies by sending a "tweet." Seven responded within an hour and H&R Block was the leader.  HR&Block said this program was instrumental in repositioning the company as being "more responsive".

The challenge for Twitter is going to be its ability to scale. CB radio was a lot like Twitter: in the late 70s and early 80s, millions of people bought these radios initially because it allowed them to communicate with each other to locate cheap gas and to notify others of speed traps. But it fell victim to its own popularity: because of the millions of users jamming onto the grid, channels became incredibly noisy and communication became next to impossible. Once people started to use their radios less frequently, it opened the door for a competing technology: the mobile phone.

Twitter needs to avoid this problem. It has changed its engineering team and its former lead architect Blaine Cook has left the organization. Founder Biz Stone is reported to say that he projects growth to "...grow by a factor of 10, maybe 100." I think this is low...they may be underestimating potential growth once it truly becomes a public phenomenon.

The problem is when you have sudden floods of information. I blogged earlier how New York City's 311 number went from 43,000 calls a day to 65,000 when there was a blizzard. What happens in, heaven forbid, an earthquake or hurricane? Or once the NFL or FIFA seasons begin, what happens when they start getting the same type of traffic as the major sports sites?

The reality is that each one of these crises is an opportunity for Twitter to prove naysayers wrong. If it can

If you don't know what Twitter is, here's an introduction put together by Common Grounds:


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