So TechCrunch has decided that Pownce is headed for the dead pool. They’re so damn sure that Twitter has won in the micro-bloggin/status-posting/whatever-category-they-are field that no one else can touch them. I’m not so sure about that. The biggest problem with TechCrunch’s statement is they forget to take into account that Pownce is still in closed, invite only beta and has not even made their public launch yet. Honestly, I think Mike Arrington is just really hoping to see Pownce fail because he doesn’t like it. Well, Mr. Arrington, I’m here to respectfully disagree with you on this. Click “read more” for the for the rest.
Pownce vs. Twitter vs. Jaiku
As you can see, the three services have very similar looking interfaces and all of them do pretty much the same thing. Once you get past the interface similarities, you realize that there are quite a few differences among the services. Of course there are similarities, too!
Same, yet different
They are the same because the primary focus, for the most part, is posting short messages. Well, the definition of short being something less wordy as this post, at least for Pownce anyway. Twitter and Jaiku, which are both primarily SMS focused, are limited to 140 characters per post. I’ll get to that in a minute. Other than that, as noted above, the interface on the websites of the respective services are fairly similar. You have a post box on top and friends’ notes beneath that. Also, all three services have ancillary information along the side bars of the interface. This varies by service, but most have your friends, some statistical information and the like.
Now, to break down each service into the good, the bad and the ugly.
Pownce is the new kid on the block. They’ve been around, or more appropriately, I’ve know about them since this summer. It’s still in invite-only, beta status right now, but even with that said, it’s a pretty good and polished service. I mean, yes it still has a few rough edges, but what in beta doesn’t? In fact, isn’t that the point of a beta? To test the service/program/etc. out to find the bugs?
Pownce is not limited to just short text messages. Pownce users can send 4 types of notes: Messages, Links, Files and Events.
|Pownce message interface|
Messages: Messages are the most basic type of note. These are most analogous to Twitter and Jaiku postings as they contain text. Unlike the other two, Pownce is not limited to SMS length, so it can handle more than a 140 characters in a note. Pownce will auto “read more” your posts if you get too windy so one person can not dominate your friends’ pages. Messages will also automatically convert URLs to hyperlinks. You cannot, however, include HTML in a note.
Links: Links are pretty much what the name suggests. They are links to other content. Links also have a message component to them, which like a standard message, can contain as much or as little information as you’d like to share. If you link to certain places, for example Flickr or Youtube, Pownce will automatically generate a preview of the linked content.
Files: Files, again, is exactly what the name suggests. It’s the ability to send a file in a note. One caveat here, though, is that you can, wisely, only share files with friends.
Events: Again, events are exactly as suggested. I have little experience with using events, so I can’t really say much about them.
Pownce also, I think, has one of the best interfaces for reading notes. You get your choices of a few different styles, I personally like to see “all notes & replies”. This will also let you see your own notes, your friends’ notes and any replies that have been made to your notes.
|Pownce message reading interface|
Oh and that brings me to one other thing for the good category… Pownce supports replies to your notes. There is no need to have to rely on using @username notation to send a reply, and then hoping and praying that the person you are replying to is actually subscribed to you and sees the reply.
The worst part about Pownce, has actually nearly been fixed as I speak. It was the lack of mobile support. Pownce officially launched a mobile version a few days ago, so this really isn’t so bad, I guess.
The only other “bad” I can think of, and I don’t know how useful it even is, is there is no ability to bring in outside feeds. Again, not sure how useful it is.
The most ugly part of Pownce, right now, is the AIR client. I’d show it to you, but I don’t have it installed. There is hope, however, since Pownce is slowly releasing an API that other people will step up and build better Pownce desktop clients, however, posting and reading with the web interface is excellent.
Twitter is the 10,000 pound gorilla in this category. They are the one that I would speculate most people outside of the geek world know about, if they know of any of these services at all. They’re the ones that have had the biggest publicity surrounding them. I think part of this was thanks to Leo Laporte and his public disapproval at the name Twitter because it sounds too similar to his own TWiT netcast network’s name and then abandonment of his Twitter account. (Leo has since returned to Twitter.)
|Twitter message interface|
Twitter is very good at what they do. They allow you to send short messages through an almost limitless number of different ways. There’s the web interface, desktop applications, a SMS gateway, an instant message gateway, and probably something I’m forgetting. They have a robust API and tools to take advantage of this.
However, Twitter has it’s limits. The biggest? I can only type 140 characters in a note. While this is good for short and sweet things, such as:
Man it's foggy out here!
It’s absolutely horrendous to send a link or anything else that you’d like to share with your friends with Twitter. In fact, to send most links you have to use a service like TinyURL first to “tiny” up the URL to make it fit with-in the 140 character limit.
Additionally, Twitter does not have any form to facilitate discussion other than using the @username notation in a message that you write.
|Twitter message reading interface|
Hands down, the lack of discussion/reply facilities on notes.
Jaiku was the obscure Twitter rival that was jolted to popularity thanks to two things… Leo Laporte’s disapproval and abandonment of Twitter (to which he has since returned) and it’s acquisition by Google. They are functionally, the same as Twitter, with a few exceptions…
|Jaiku message interface|
Comments & Built in feeds.
Jaiku, unlike Twitter, allows you to submit comments on individual posts. This is probably the single most important difference between the it and Twitter. It also does not need an outside service such as Twitter feed to import feeds from your other blogs, microblogs, etc.
They’re not different enough from Twitter. Sure, they have commenting, but other than that, Twitter has tools to accomplish everything else they have. If Google wants to succeed with Jaiku, they have to find themselves a niche.
|Jaiku message reading interface|
The “most ugliest” part of the service right now is the Google acquisition. They’ve taken it to an invite-only status and as far as I can see have not actually pushed out any new features to the service. However, I don’t use Jaiku as regularly as Pownce or Twitter, so I could have just missed them.
My conclusion is that Pownce is the best of the services out there. While it does have a few shortcomings, especially since it is in beta status right now, I have full confidence that it will be a mature and even better product by the time of the official release.
If you’re not comfortable using a beta service, or just can’t get an invite, I’d recommend Twitter, even though it’s bare-bones in terms of features, for the sole purpose that Google is tinkering with Jaiku right now. (Plus, I think Jaiku is invite only right now.)
Please leave a comment. I’d like to know what you all think.