19 October 2009

A business model for Twitter?

Champions of Twitter and its influence in public debate have had a lot to celebrate recently; the overturning of the Trafigura super-injunction and Jan Moir’s reputation being torn to shreds following her column on the death of Stephen Gately, for example.

But, as described in a blog article by Mark Potts, Twitter has another area of excellence – its ability to break news. Twitter, argues Potts, through its broadcast, real-time, 140-character headline nature makes it a perfect vehicle for the latest news, whether it's being generated by on-the-spot observers or news organisations.

Whilst many media organisations have attracted a large core of followers (such as the New York Times, with 1,995,199 followers), one feed that is keeping up with the “big guns” is a Twitter-only headline service Breaking News Online, that boasts over 1.3million followers.

Run by 19-year old Dutch entrepreneur Michael van Poppel, the Breaking News team scan the major news sites and use them alongside their own reporting to produce the feed.

What is particularly interesting about Breaking News notes Potts – besides its ability to hold its own alongside major news organisations – is that Poppel may have found a way to monetize Twitter. They have developed an iPhone app that sells for $1.99—plus a 99-cent-per-month subscription fee - to send followers the latest headlines.

It will be interesting to observe whether the company which prompted PaidContent to write: "Hey Media Company. Buy BNO News. Now. Really” will be able to make this particular business model work. The organisations that Potts succinctly describes as: “taking a backseat to a clever 19-year-old kid” will almost certainly be watching.

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