The last decade the number of types of messages we can send has exploded. We have email, SMS, MMS, IM and, the newest kid on the block, Tweets. All these message types are linked to specific communication media. SMS is typically send via a mobile network like GSM, same for MMS, IMs and Tweets use the internet and email is available on a wide variety networks.
In the end it is all about the communication and each message type has its specific purpose. You do not write a newsletter in SMS and at the same time you do not Tweet personal messages. The purposes of each message type can be summarized as follows:
* long and short messages
* instant or non-instant
* targeted or broadcast
The purpose demands the selection of message type and network. Instant messages are better delivered to a always-on mobile platform but non-instant long messages can be delivered to a sometimes-on non- or semi-mobile platform. A message can be targeted to a person or a group of people. Another option is to broadcast it like a “What are you doing” message on social networks.
To communicate we have a myriad of choices of applications and networks. These networks are non-coupled effectively creating closed ecosystems. Skype users cannot reach MSN users or the other way around. At the same time you cannot SMS Skype users. These boundaries are the biggest threat to any network. Without internetwork messaging users will select one platform as a winner. All others will lead a niche life.
Services like Twitter are completely useless in the future. Their role will be taken over by others. There is really no compelling reason to use Twitter except their large userbase. But the user base of Facebook or Gmail is larger. It is no problem for them to move into this type of services and Twitter becomes the Netscape of messaging.
It is in all networks interest to work on internetworking and focus on standardizing message types. Then they can compete on user interface, quality of service and delivery platforms.