Friday Grok: Twitter tangled, social smashed, Windows cracking

Social networking runs up hard against reality

All kinds of companies have been getting themselves into all sorts of trouble responding to the marketing challenge posed by social media.

Shell and Qantas are two that come readily to mind, but there are countless smaller examples. Indeed, a whole cottage industry of consultants has grown up rapidly, promising (code for selling) advice on how best to respond to new realities. But in reality no one really knows because the space is too young and the disciplines too immature.

Here’s the best evidence of that. It appears even Twitter itself has been tangled up on Twitter. The back story is that it suspended the account of the British journalist living in the US who had the temerity to both complain about NBC’s Olympics coverage and to post the corporate email of the exec responsible.

Twitter zapped the journalist’s account for violating its terms and conditions — something it later admitted he didn’t do. It later sent its lawyer out to apologise and insist the company didn’t proactively monitor tweets with a view to penalising users — although that’s exactly what it did — indeed it tipped off NBC and even advised them on how to file a complaint so Twitter could respond by yanking the offending account.

In a story headlined “Hey Twitter, you don’t send a lawyer to do a CEO’s job”, <i>The Next Web</i> pretty much has the story nailed — both the shoddy premise and the shabby aftermath — if you want to read more.

Social media is getting smashed in the markets

Facebook, Groupon and Zynga and all getting pwned right now. Their stocks are tanking and the pack has found its groove. The spotlight is turning on LinkedIn for no reasons other than that it sits in the category.

<i>Marketwatch</i> described these as the dog days for the former dotcom darlings. It points out that since its IPO Facebook is off 45 per cent, Groupon is down 68 per cent (and worse if you measure it against its day one pop price) and Zynga has given up 75 per cent of its value. Of the three, Facebook is getting the softest treatment as the market still buys its long term story. Groupon has no such wriggle room as patience has run thin, and Zynga’s decision to strip COO John Schappert of responsibilities for the companies products is describe by Marketwatch as smacking of desperation.

Brave new world, but not for Redmond

Finally, Microsoft has released Windows 8 to manufacturing. That means, as <i>Techcrunch</i> pointed out, and as the name implies, it will soon be in the hands of OEM’s and manufacturers. For the rest of us, October 26 is the key date.

The real issue from Grok’s perspective is this:

Smartphones are replacing desktops as the primary piece of personal technology for consumers and the mobile web is surging. By extension the desktop — where Microsoft dominates is becoming less important. For the first time in a generation — indeed since the advent of Netscape and world wide web (yeah, that’s what all those w’s stand for kids) Microsoft will be selling into a world where the principal operating system used by technology consumers will belong to someone else — either Apple or Google. That’s a point that has gone largely unheralded — but it’s a very, very big deal.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments.

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