I've been playing all day with the new Threadsy, the new Seesmic desktop, the unreleased Brizzly, the new TweetDeck desktop, and the new PeopleBrowsr.
It is very hard to tell these apart. That tells me there's a shakeout coming.
Or, there's a billion-dollar opportunity none of them are seeing yet.
Here's the opportunity: curation.
"Oh, Scoble, you are being stupid again," I can just hear some of you saying. But hear me out. This isn't just the demented discussion of someone who has gotten way too little sleep due to the birth of his new son a few days ago.
No, this is the demented discussion of someone who has an itch to scratch that isn't being scratched.
Here, let's look at the real time landscape. On one side (the microblog reading side) we have Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed. On the other side (the heavy-duty content creation side) we have Tumblr, Wordpress, and Posterous. Oh, yes, we have readers like Google Reader, LazyFeed, and Feedly.
First, Twitter did us all a HUGE favor by limiting us to 140 characters. It let us read HUGE numbers of people's opinions. Just today, for instance, I've read thousands of Tweets and shared out the best hundred or so. I can't do this with any other service as efficiently and as publicly. Even FriendFeed, which has a "like" feature that is actually better thought out overall, I can't just include the post. On FriendFeed and Facebook you get all the other comments from all the other people whether you like those or not.
Second, Tumblr, Wordpress.com, and Posterous have done us a HUGE favor by making long-form blogging and sharing of photos and other media cool again.
But why haven't those joined? And why is that a billion-dollar opportunity?
Well, after having my son this weekend, I see I have a ton of places to share photos, videos, pictures, and little Tweets. But I don't have anyplace I can really put those all together with a nice blog post. Yeah, I can do that here, but the UI sucks. I have to copy and paste URLs and that's assuming I can find them anymore (it's really difficult -- go find my first baby photo on FriendFeed from Saturday night. I found it, but it took some work and if I wasn't a geek who knew how to use search engines I might have just given up).
Here's a test. Take a tweet of mine in your favorite reader like Seesmic or TweetDeck, click a single button on your iPhone (that's how I favorite them, which shares them instantly with all of you) and then type or leave some audio right underneath that Tweet and click another button to post it). Hint: you can't. That, to me, is opportunity.
So, to have a great curation system, what do we need?
1. A good reader. Seesmic, TweetDeck, Threadsy, Brizzly, or PeopleBrowsr all would do fine, but I'd like to mix Tweets and Facebook items in with email (Threadsy does that) and RSS items (Google Reader or Feedly does that). So, there's still some innovation needed in the reader/aggregator department. Oh, and since I've moved about 60% of my reading time onto my iPhone, it better work on the iPhone too. So far on the iPhone I like SimplyTweet the best, but would probably switch to a system that had a good curation/publishing tool. Already I've loaded Posterous' app onto my iPhone.
2. A curation component. Must be easy to use. Just click to curate. Curation should be possible with text, audio, video, or photos.
3. A publishing system. Something that matches Posterous or Tumblr for ease of use and great design/reading. It would be even better if, in addition to an RSS feed, it also would spit out a Twitter feed so that other people can import my curation into their Twitter tool and go through the whole process again.
Extra points if all three pieces are available as open source components that we can load on our own servers, the way Wordpress is.
So, why would such a curation system be a billion dollar opportunity?
Well, first of all, it would open up a new kind of CMS. That alone would be worth some money, but not a billion.
Second of all, it would open up a new kind of community. One that goes beyond Twitter and Facebook, but uses both of those. Every time I talk about this tool with other publishing professionals they agree there's a need. Many of them are already trying to use CoTweet or TweetRiver to watch tweet streams and push them into buckets for further discussion. Even sites like Mashable and TechCrunch are watching Tweets all day long and are regularly building blog posts out of those Tweets (but they are doing them by hand).
Third, I look at potential market sizes. Blogging got to a few hundred million people. Twitter and Facebook are going to hit far larger numbers, why? Because the potential market for microblogs is bigger than blogging was. Think about it. Lots of people can write a status message. Not as many people can put together a good blog post.
Even more people will be able to curate. They already are doing just that in YouTube comments, Blog comments, or Facebook communities, among other places.
Plus, we want to curate our lives and now that more and more of you will be pouring your lives into Twitter and Facebook you'll want to save some of those moments in a more permanent, and curated, way.
It's a billion dollar opportunity just sitting out there. Anyone working on this?