A year ago I wrote a blog post comparing Twhirl to TweetDeck. So far, it was a very successful blog post with lots of visits and direct traffic from search engines. It could be due to the timing, or maybe comparison posts are very search engine friendly, or that it was just useful, helping people to decide which twitter desktop client works for them.
Since a year is a long time on the web I decide to revisit my findings and to check what has changed during this period. Based on this Mashable blog post from early February 2009 TweetDeck is by all mean the winner. A similar post from Techcrunch supports these findings too. The most recent TwitStat report from October 5th, 2009, shows TweetDeck with 12.82% of users and twhirl with 0.07% of the users. The next serious contender (and one of the selected top 5 based on a recent survey done by lifehacker) from Seesmic (twhirl was bought by seesmic in April 2008) is the new Seesmic client with 3.8% market share.
Up until recently I was one of the 0.07% that were still using Twhirl. I do also use TweetDeck. I used Twhirl at work because of its tiny condensed screen. Twhirl was really good at utilizing window real-estate and it allowed me to use twitter more discreetly in the office. TweetDeck on the other hand let you see more of twitter and other life stream social networks in a single glance when it is maximized. I used it more in the evenings, at home.
I recently replaced twhirl with the new Seesmic client. So now it is time to compare TweetDeck vs. Seesmic Desktop. In this post I will mainly describe the differences, feature-wise, between the TweetDeck and Seesmic applications. I will also cover what has changed since my last examination. You can assume the rest to be the same.
Features that are in TweetDeck and not in Seesmic:
- Trending topics and Tag Cloud – via TwitScoop, TweetDeck shows what is going on right now on the web. This is a killer feature and having this view locally on the desktop ensure that you won’t miss a beat. This feature was already there when I first reviewed TweetDeck, yet it is still a big differentiator.
- Integration with 12 seconds – not new and not a deal breaker for me
- Unique timelines views – there are many twitter time-line types views like: all friend (home), Mentions(@replies), Direct messages (Private), Favorites, Facebook, and Search results. Both applications shows all these view types. TweetDeck offers few more unique time-line views:
- * StockTwits view for people sharing trading information. It is not a bad idea to add more niche community timeline views. Hint: look at the #litchat hashtag.
- * TweetDeck recommend which is a group of people on twitter that TweetDeck thinks highly of. This could be a useful service for people who just joined twitter and can learn what to do and what not on twitter.
- * Groups – in this great feature TweetDeck provides a very efficient way to construct new timelines following groups of people. I have my “experts” groups for all sort of subjects. Metaphorically, a group provides you with a new lens looking into the twitter update stream. A group is a filter. Harnessing good group members ensure great stream of information. It is a great way to avoid spam.
- *MySpace – I don’t have MySpace account but I guess that this is very helpful to have just single desktop client that could brings friends feeds from any desired social network. I noticed that I do more with Facebook just because I have it locally via my twitter desktop client.
- Mark all as Seen, Clear seen tweets and Show what is popular in this column – all great and useful features that are helping to manage the time-line. I don’t understand yet why it is not available on the TweetDeck recommend column ??.
- TweetDeck multiple accounts. This, for me, was the most significant reason for sticking with twhirl. Now, actually, I think that TweetDeck is doing better job handling multiple accounts than Seesmic. Switching from account to account in the Compose Update frame takes only one click or two. In Seesmic it requires opening a dropdown and then another click or two.To be fair, it was easier to find how to add new accounts on Seesmic than on TweetDeck. But once an additional account was added in TweetDeck it is easier to know what are you doing for which account. For every new time-line added you’ll see an option to select the associated account. I liked that.
- Window management:TweetDeck minimize more horizontally – I think that it is more important than vertically.
- Translate – From an initial examination it looks like it really works and I could understand some of the tweets that I see in foreign language (Hebrew was on reverse – is this my computer?). I did not test it enough though.
- Text Shrinking – Both serviced offer this option. This feature takes a tweet and replace some of the words with abbreviated version or numbers. I tested only couple of tweets comparing the two and I found the results to be very similar.
- Reply to all – this is a cool feature that can save you some time communicating with your clique. In a single click TweetDeck copies all the referenced twitter user names from the selected tweet to the message edit box. Seesmic has this feature too. I mentioned it here because it was added to both since my previous review.
- Show preview information for short urls. This is useful in a couple of ways. It is nice to see where a link is taking us before actually going there. It is also a good way to validate that the link that I just posted is actually working.
- Show # of followers in tweets – if you care about size!
Features that are in Seesmic and not in TweetDeck
- Navigation – here I think that Seesmic did a great innovative job. The left page serves as a hypertext-ed index, linking to each one of the columns. Since there could be so many columns added, each for any time-line, it is great having the left pane for easy and quick navigation to the desired column. It is easier/quicker to click than to scroll to the right place. On the other hand Seesmic did not make it intuitive to find the General configuration page – it requires clicking the plus sign next to the Accounts label. Some of these setting are not Account specific (at least not at the time I was writing this blog post).
- Multiple accounts – I miss the single window per account. It is not always clear for which account the main five timelines will be added when I clicked on them (Home, Replies, Private, Sent, Favorites).
- FriendFeed client – gone, I don’t miss this one
- Services – Seesmic supports a list of services yet beside bit.ly I don’t use any of the other so I can’t tell much about this feature. It was easier to set the bit.ly account on TweetDeck, they did a good work pointing me to where my bit.ly API key was.
- Spellchecker (English only) – as you can learn from reading this blog post, I was not born in an English speaking language country, so for me this is a life saver.
- Friends/followers view – I need this view back! I used it to learn about my new followers. It use to be available in twhirl. Dear Seesmic, what happen to this view? In this view I could see the list of all my friends and followers, together with their profile details.
- Color coded notifications – gone, I missed those too.
- Window management– Seesmic allow multiple window mode: single column mode (good when you work from the office), One fix view and many detached column, or all column detached. Also Seesmic minimize more vertically. I prefer it to be thinner. I expected that after shrinking the right pane I would be able to minimize it more horizontally but it didn’t. One more thing, could it be possible to add another window mode? How about single window for account:) ? Hint: just launch twhirl.
- Archive button vs. Sent time-line view – I don’t know if there is a difference. Anyway it is convenient to have this right at the home view.
- Lists – It seems like an incomplete feature. There is no way to add more than one person to the list. Was this the intent? I did like the way it was organize though, as a tree.
Performance – both applications perform well retrieving information and being responsive to user action. TweetDeck crashed once on my laptop.
Each of this application is packed with features and I’m sure that I missed some from this review. I hope that I did cover the notable differentiators.
What else could be added to these desktop clients? They are already more than twitter client. If the objective is to bring the real-time web down to the desktop I can see few additional real-time web services out there.
BackType Alerts – BackType crawl looking for comments on lots of blog posts. It is possible to create an alert searching for a word or phrase in blog comments. This is another listening tool that can lead us to where the action is.
LazyFeed – Real-time stream of new content feed from web-sites, blogs and twitter, filtered by tag (subject). I love this new service and i use it a lot. This is taken from LazyFeed web-site:
Never miss out.
Save all kinds of topics and don’t worry about missing out on anything. The most recently updated topics will rise to the top, keeping you always updated.
Conclusion: both applications are doing great job helping us to constantly be connected and to find out: what is going on now, what’s hot, and what’s next. It is getting harder and harder to find a key differentiating feature that can help us to deice which way to go. It is a matter of preferences and also a matter of what is that you are doing on the web. I personally plan to give Seesmic a chance. I think that the Seesmic team is doing a great job organizing the different time-lines and hopefully soon I will see back some the features that I liked so much on Twhirl.
What are your thoughts? Do you see a killer feature that can help Seesmic to acquire more market share? Are there any other real-time services that you want to see streamed to your desktop?
Inspired by Being John Malkovich movie
Context: The objective of this fictional short story is not to share my wannabe ambitions (guilty) but to emphasize closeness and influence. In my opinion as we adopt social media tools for personal and work objectives we can get closer as if we share a single mind powered by many brains. Communication between people is a miracle. An effective communication between individuals is a phenomenon. Today, communication on the web happens more frequently than ever before.
Some bloggers influence so many of us that it is possible to recognize their tone of voice and content from other corners of the web. There is nothing wrong about it since these voices are on the good side of the fence, leading the way. It could be yet another form of closeness – identifying with.
Being Chris Brogan – the story
Blogmon, the application that I built for monitoring Technorati ranks progress over time, was acting all week long. The numbers where all over the place. The tracing shows lots of errors coming from Technorati web service. I was getting a little agitated and finally when I started seeing weird rank numbers I decided to pay the web site a visit. I decided to look at the Top 100 blogs page first. As I was scrolling down just above the 8th blog from the top (Official Google Blog) and below the 7th place (Ars Technica) there was an additional narrow but obvious blank line. The distance between the two blogs seems off. Then I felt my hand suddenly moving the mouse as if I have no control over it, and as the cursor was hovering over this blank space I noticed that a yellow small font text become visible. The mouse cursor was now away so the text become invisible again. This time I moved the mouse intentionally and kept the cursor on the yellow text. To my astonishment the text in yellow and italic font said: 7.5. “Chris Brogan life-stream portal”. With a shaking right finger I clicked the link. Suddenly the bluetooth light at the bottom right end corner of my laptop flashed with purple light. The Wireless Network Connection icon at the task bar started blinking and Technorati page turned pitch black. I was sure I was attacked by an extremely powerful and distractive virus. After few seconds sitting frozen on my chair with what that looked like a turned off computer I touched (hesitantly) the laptop mouse touchpad.
The computer slowly turned on but the feel was as if I’m controlling another computer through remote access. It is more accurate to say that I was not really in control at that time, someone else was moving the mouse and clicking on all sort of desktop objects and I was only the observer. That got me even more paranoid thinking about worms and other goodies from the world wide web – why did I clicked the obviously suspicious link?? Just as I was about to go to the Start button (I run XP on my laptop) to shutdown the computer I noticed that it was running Mac OS. More than that I noticed that I was starring at Chris Brogan blog while someone was answering multiple comments using the @mrX and @msY notation. I did not know what to do so I just sat there and watched the hectic activity, after few minutes I could only reach one conclusion. I’m watching thee one at work. That’s when I decide to un-mute my laptop speakers. A soft voice speaking almost without taking a breath started coming through the speakers. “25 ways to help the world using social media”, “50 ways to find your destiny using your blog”, “how to show your appreciation to the community”. Now, I was really freaked out!! I’m not just watching him I’m inside his brain!!!.
But before I had the time to digest all of this, a new window popped up and I could recognized Twhirl the Twitter Desktop client. The mouse clicked first the @ button looking for recent replies (there were 6 new ones) then the envelop button (there where 300 direct messages – poor guy). I could now hear the answers before they were typed although the typing followed in a speed that I did not even know possible. I or Chris or both started answering to some of the Twitter replies from @cspenn, @jeffpulver, and @jowyang. I haven’t touched my mouse now for more than 12 minutes but it felt like my brain was carried for a ride as if it was co-pilot on a combat jet plan.
Twhirl through Twitter sent us following several links recommended by friends, fans and followers. We left a couple of comments here and there (backtype helps to refresh my memory). We shouted out other’s Tweets to share the sharable. Then after 20 minutes I got a “network failure” message. The OS changed back to Windows and the browser was loading one of those splog that copies other people work using a bot, planted with lots of AdSense ads all around - a real beauty. It was then 2am and my brain was shut. I closed the computer and went to bed.
Tomorrow I will try and see if I can join the cognitive flow and shout out some of my favorite blog posts on Twitter… I heard that when Chris does it, it could do miracle to the web-site traffic:)