Twitter Usernames Are Like Domains in 1995


TwitterI posted an article on TechCrunch last night after I requested the Twitter dev team to open their API and expose “direct messages”. (Note: Some others had requested similar functionality from Twitter). I saw the potential of “direct messages” essentially becoming commands, so that applications could be built off the Twitter back-end — allowing users to send private commands to specific keywords (er, Twitter usernames) and those usernames processing a command via the API, and sending requested information back to the user.

This really opens Twitter up and there’s going to be a lot of applications built off the Twitter back-end (although I agree with one commenter: it’d be nice to know officially from Twitter whether they’ll ever plan to charge an application provider that builds off their platform).

Nik Cubrilovic just opened the can of worms regarding Twitter username squatting. I had lingo referring to this in the TechCrunch article, but I think Mike wanted to keep the post focused.

Twitter usernames are one-of-a-kind — and I kind of feel like this is 1995 and someone just told me, “Hey, you know, domains are one-of-a-kind — they’re going to worth money someday; people will be selling them to each other. In particular, the generic domains are going to be worth a lot.”

I’m patiently waiting to see who makes the first Twitter username sale. Will there be a “Twitter username after-market” someday? We’ll see.

Finally, Nik feels that Twitter missed out on an opportunity by not reserving these generic keywords ahead of time — I agree, but strongly disagree. I think the Twitter team is focused on building a great service — and a great back-end. I think they want people to build applications off of it and make it more apart of people’s lives. If you build an app off it, then people depend on using Twitter. Just like Evan’s (which he sold to Google) — he focused on building a great app, he didn’t worry about reserving the generic subdomains for ‘’ (Blogger’s domain for hosting).