Why is “Innovation in Assembly” worth millions?

Picture: Paul Bica

Picture: Paul Bica

How could Innovation in Assembly lead to a multi-million dollar success story?

Maybe we should ask the recently successful 17 year old Nick Daloisio. His summarisation mash-up was just sold to Yahoo for an estimated $30 million.

What is Innovation in Assembly?

Tim O’Reilly attributes success in Web 2.0 to some common patterns. One of these,  Innovation in Assembly suggests that while the early technology success came from assembling hardware in innovative ways (think Dell computers), the Web 2.0 wave of success comes from innovative ways of assembling and offering services.

…. Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others. (O’Reilly, 2005)

One early adopter of this approach and still a leader is Twitter. Their innovative assembly was apparent from their original concept and early challenges back in 2004 through to launch in 2006 with broadcasts to the internet.  

In its basic form, Twitter is a public message service which allows people to send messages up to 140 characters. But that is just the beginning. After that, people can then follow others, utilise the information, and analyse the traffic on topics. The Twitter site has some clear explanations for tweeters, readers, business success stories and community causes.

The modern Twitter might have morphed from being a broadcast tool to a media digest tool but it is their strong participation in the burgeoning API (Application Programming Interfaces) space that gives it real Innovation in Assembly success and identifies it as one of the API giants

Picture: Vinoth Chandar

Picture: Vinoth Chandar

What is Twitter doing so successfully that gives it an estimated 250 million unique monthly visitors and ranks it as the second most popular social networking site after Facebook? Probably, ticking all the boxes for best practice in the Innovation in Assembly pattern.

How does Twitter deliver on Best Practice?

* Twitter not only offers an extensive range of API’s to their service but clearly delivers their core business strength through API’s based on the significant API traffic indicating the high value placed on the Twitter service.

* Twitter follows best practice in API’s by supporting the developer community with blogs, forums, and documentation and draws on Web 2.0 principles of open development and supporting their customers by implementing API’s in developer friendly REST.

* Twitter implements the best practice of offering the smallest unit of service which enables their customers to remix the service in user-centric ways.

* Twitter uses their platform to build customer trust and loyalty by giving advice and status on the platform and also lives their customers experience by ‘eating their own dogfood‘ and making Twitter.com a  client of their own API.

Picture: Rosaura Ochoa

Picture: Rosaura Ochoa

What API problems has Twitter experienced?  

Any organisation utilising API’s needs to carefully avoid the quicksand, and Twitter has had their own problems.

* Users of Twitter needed to develop and protect their own product, while exposed to changes from Twitter. A simple list of ‘my favourite Twitter sites’ circa 2008 demonstrates those who have survived, retired and gone missing in action. Open development is a competitive space and not for the feint hearted, but at least you can learn from the journey of others.

* Twitter itself needs to carefully consider their offering and their users. Since launching in 2006, Twitter had built up a large developer community with their first version of API’s so their changes in the Terms of Service in March 2013 upset some customers and killed some sitesTwitter may have changed their API for strategic or practical reasons, but these need to be carefully considered and managed.

Overall, Twitter has survived early start-up challenges, maturity changes and is still going strong. There must be some good lessons there for any business!

Twitters Britt Selvitelle explains the opportunity to harness the passion of innovation through Twitter in this Tedx video “Innovation of Twitter through scaling the back end architecture”.

UPDATE 13 April 2013: Twitter buys music app from Brisbane startup.

UPDATE 11 April 2013: Business Insider did an investigation of the Summly sale to Yahoo with some interesting insights on Innovation in Assembly and the start-up journey.

________________________________________________________________

Related Posts:

Innovation in assembly – Twitter API: blog by Faisal HaKami

Innovation in assembly – Twitter API: blog by Audrey Oliveira

Innovation in assembly – Twitter API: blog by Ebracadabra

Innovation in assembly – Twitter API: blog by Edie Cheng

 ______________________________________________________________________________

O’Reilly, 2005. ‘What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software‘.
Retrieved on 23 March 2013 from http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=1

Financial Review, 2013.  ‘How to avoid social media death‘. Retrieved on 25 March 2013 from http://www.afr.com/p/boss/how_to_avoid_social_media_death_ZQZSUjnPKo59lBobf0VngK

14 thoughts on “Why is “Innovation in Assembly” worth millions?

    • They say money talks – and it got your attention 😉 Any organisation that wants to succeed needs to consider how their product delivers value, and Twitter has managed it well.

  1. Great post as usual! I use Twitter for business purposes to keep up to date with Industry changes & information. I have found the uptake of potential customers & current customers to be very slow whereas Facebook seems to be the best way to connect with customers. Do you think Twitter is a good way to connect with customers? If so, in what setting? Perhaps Australian’s are slow in the uptake of Twitter!? I have been contacted by third party developers to advertise via Twitter using & paying for their service for example ‘Twitter Offers’ (Twitter’s version of Facebook offers) however I am very reluctant in that all my posts/status updates from Facebook are automatically sent to my Twitter account & like I said earlier connection with customers is very low.

    • Thanks again for visiting Matt. I think each app has advantages and disadvantages – and worth considering each one. I think the link at the bottom of this post about ‘social media death’ explores these ideas.

      Personally, I think Twitter is a tracking/status tool to show who is saying what and what is trending. If you can get your business onto the coat tails of someone who has profile, then your business benefits from their Twitter profile. This is different to Facebook where there is a lot of noise and hard to filter.

  2. Thanks Bronwyn for a great information about innovation in assembly..that helped me to understand Twitter which is one of the most important websites now a days and used by all ages .. it is a great communication way between family and friends and even a good way to know a new people !
    Do you think twitter is the faster tool that helped people getting famous ? Or more popular ? why?

    • Personally, I don’t think Twitter makes you famous but works the other way. If people are well known or have something interesting to say (content?), then Twitter helds spread that message. People may become a little more known by riding on the coat tails of some famous persons message, but in the overload of messages I think that is hard to achieve. As always in business, you need something of value. With Twitter, I think that value sits in the message content – either valuable information or from a valuable source. My thoughts, anyway.

  3. Great Post, However I was wondering in what kind of ways people are using these API’s and whether it can be beneficial for the user (who uses the API) as well as twitter.

    • Good question, Kearhs. I did some research and added some details (see below). Hope this helps.

      * In its basic form, Twitter is a public message service which allows people to send messages up to 140 characters. But that is just the beginning. After that, people can then follow others, utilise the information, and analyse the traffic on topics. The Twitter site has some clear explanations for tweeters, readers, business success stories and community causes.

      * Users of Twitter needed to develop and protect their own product, while exposed to changes from Twitter. A simple list of ‘my favourite Twitter sites’ circa 2008 demonstrates those who have survived, retired and gone missing in action. Open development is a competitive space and not for the feint hearted, but at least you can learn from the journey of others.

  4. Hi Bronwyn,
    Fantastic, thanks for helping me understand how twitter works. It is really great example of innovation in assembly. I liked how you listed other blogs at the end about twitter. Your post is full of great sources. And I agree with you, twitter is a very popular app.
    I’m wondering….
    Do you think that the success of any Web 2.0 application really depends on providing it with Facebook API?

    • Great question, Eman. I think it shows you are open and using ‘innovation in assembly’ to the max, but some companies are possibly a bit nervous about it. I think it will limit them if they try to shut others out. Most of the big success stories allowed open access…we just don’t hear about all of the failed ones who died in the process!

  5. Great post, Bronwyn. Twitter is an excellent example of a unique data source that can be used in so many different ways by developers! I think it’s interesting how you mentioned the problems with the API and how the changes to the Terms of Service affected users – Looking at the link you provided, it looks like they limit the usage of the client apps? I would question if this means they meet some of the best practice principles, such as customer trust.

    Do you know if Twitter learnt from this uproar? If they have changed their terms again, were developers once again angry?

    • Hi Monique, thanks for taking the time to follow the links! I’m not a developer, but I gather Twitter significantly shut down their API access. I think it was a strategic business decision in that they had to do it (for stability and value proposition) so they had little choice. However, they gave plenty of notice so they should have held the developers trust (better than changes unannounced!). It does highlight the dependency you create once you offer API’s. Maybe get it right first time or suffer the complaints later..If only it was that simple!

  6. Really nice post Bronwyn. With this post and all the other blog posts I have seen focusing on twitter I am going to have to start using twitter a lot more. The things that have been achieved through the use of their API is amazing it really makes me look forward to seeing the creations people will come up with when using this design pattern.

    • Thanks, Chris. Yes, it is hard to miss Twitter! They have the double advantage of both explicit content (what people think and what they are referencing) and implicit content from trends, retweets etc. Using this sort of information to follow something like an election is pretty amazing! It’s like getting inside people’s heads..

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