It’s been six months since Fred Wilson advised Twitter developers to stop “filling holes” in Twitter. That blog post raised a huge outcry from developers that Twitter was changing the rules in the middle of the game. Well, yeah, they were, but the rules are going to keep changing all the time.
What I found shocking at the time wasn’t that Twitter was competing with its own independent developers. That happens every time a company gets large enough. I was amazed that nobody seemed to read the post carefully enough to see that Fred was also telling developers where to dig:
Verticals – We have some successes to point to here like Stocktwits for finance and Flixup for movies but this is a wide open opportunity in most verticals and we haven’t seen as much effort here as I’d have expected.
I agree with Fred. There is an entire industry of vertical Twitter applications waiting to be built. It may be that most Twitter developers are young enough to think that Web 2.0 is the only model. They need to realize that it was a fallacy. You can’t just build something cool that is totally generic, and then wait for the users to show up. Yes, that worked for Twitter, but it is the classic exception, not the rule.
There are so many possible vertical apps that can be built. Election politics are a great example. You can build a generic election app, and then customize it for every politician and political cause. Food is another open field. There are food truck apps, but that is a small segment of the food service industry. Sports, movies, travel, books, consumer electronics. They all need apps. The code may be generic inside, but you have to package it for each type of user, geographical location, socio-economic class, language, etc. That was what Fred was trying to tell everyone.