The Homestretch

A new micromessaging client for the iPhone suggests we are in for another rapid development cycle in the enterprise social media space. LaTwit may be a silly name, but Tom Blankenship, the developer of the program, listened to Leo Laporte’s conversation with author Evan Prodromou and saw an opportunity.

Laconica servers including Prodromou’s and Laporte’s TWiTArmy have several alternatives on the desktop, ranging from traditional Web access to XMPP Jabber feeds to Loic Lemeur’s Adobe AIR Twhirl client. But the mobile space is more challenged for usable alternatives, particularly the iPhone. LaTwit begins to fill that gap with an App Store product that lets you connect simultaneously to multiple accounts including Twitter and Laconica instances.

At present, the interface delivers color-coded messages in blocks, though I’ve requested an integrated time-based interleaving of the streams. Add to that Dustin Sallings’ Track hits from Twitter and Laconica servers, and the iPhone becomes a micromessaging router on the go. This should spur Twhirl and other competitors to step up similar server-based “meshed” feeds, and also lay the groundwork for Microsoft and Google to enter the space. Microsoft will be launching Live Mesh at the end of the month at the PDC in Los Angeles, along with an on-demand developer framework code named Windows Cloud, or Red Dog until recently.

Google has made no overt moves toward Tw*tter functionality since purchasing Jaiku and moving it onto its AppEngine framework recently. But with a rumored Mac version of Chrome on the horizon, it’s possible that some filtering capabilities might surface (perhaps in Gmail Labs or in association with Google Reader) to integrate multiple micromessaging streams.

For its part, Twitter has made some as yet undisclosed licensing relationships with third party distributor Gnip that may allow Track services to resume as per Twitter executives’ comments at BearHug Camp 1.0. If Gnip’s pricing model proves too aggressive, the ball may move back into Twitter’s court, but for now there appear to be good faith efforts to return community-based access to our message contriubtions in something approaching real time. Twitter’s experiment with a realtime stream of election tweets suggests the economics of Track are now in play.

Tonight’s Palin v. Biden debate will likely test the micromessaging platform’s ability to accommodate viral swarms of conversation. The first debate between the top of the tickets slowed Twitter streams a bit, while’s XMPP feeds were intermittent. As with the election, the move toward integration of commercial, open source, and mobile platforms around micromessaging is entering a climactic phase where the volatility of the issues drives the technology forward, and vice versa.