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A Week on Threadsy: First Impressions

November 12, 2009

I received my beta invite for Threadsy last week. Threadsy does something pretty cool: It pulls all your information from disparate services we love (mainly Twitter, Gmail and Facebook) and makes them viewable in one area. While I’m skeptical whether regular people want these types of all-in-one apps — part of me thinks people prefer tabs in a browser and can’t be bothered to change that paradigm — I’m impressed with Threadsy’s potential.

In a week’s time, I find it more useful for my day-to-day than I ever did FriendFeed, a social networking reader and sharing service that most people never heard of until Facebook paid $50 million to buy it.

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at 11.05.13 AM

Threadsy is closer to what Google Wave should have been. Wave is often referred to as adhering to an “e-mail metaphor,” but that references its design, since Gmail and e-mail in general are absent from the product (a huge strategic mistake). Threadsy actually embraces e-mail as a central part of the product, showing a much more pragmatic approach to mixing these social technologies with more traditional tools people still use (e-mail and IM).

Some upsides I found in first week:

  1. Mixing Twitter mentions with my Gmails. A mention of me on Twitter is a very specific action, much like an e-mail message addressed to me. Makes sense to have them in one spot.
  2. Integration with Gchat. I grew up with IM, and I love it. So there. And unlike Wave, I don’t want my IMs edited like a wiki.
  3. Easy ability to reply to a Gmail. Threadsy has a much more lightweight text editor than in regular Gmail, but I don’t need anything fancy for 90 percent of my e-mails.
  4. Retweet function and the ability to write tweets and Facebook status messages. (Simple, and in a million other products, but nice)
  5. Profiles for all your social stuff. Threadsy will automatically go through your e-mail, Twitter and Facebook and build profiles for your friends that show all the social networks they belong to and links to their presence on that particular site.

What I didn’t like/needs work:

  1. You can’t reply to a Facebook private message without launching a new page/tab in Facebook. I’m sure this isn’t Threadsy’s fault — more that Facebook wants you to use their horribly designed private message system.
  2. On the right sidebar that shows tweets and Facebook status messages, it’s noisy. Need a way to do specific lists like I would in Twitter itself now or groups in TweetDeck (though maybe Threadsy shouldn’t bother with this, which I’ll get to in a moment).
  3. With Facebook updates, it doesn’t respect the fact I’ve “removed” certain people from my stream. One of the best features Facebook added was the ability to opt out of someone’s updates. It allows you to avoid defriending someone, but keep them out of your way. Unfortunately, their updates still flow into Threadsy.
  4. Rich media integration needs work. I viewed a YouTube video within a Gmail in Threadsy, and it stretched awkwardly across the screen for a pretty lousy viewing experience.

As Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) pointed out in September, the type of thing Threadsy and other such start-ups are trying to do could become a billion dollar industry, but that’s only if people can be convinced they need such a service in their daily lives. I think the key to mainstream use will be pushing Facebook and Gmail features harder in the product than Twitter. Joe Web User spends more of his day in Facebook and Gmail. Fact. Moreover, Twitter’s power users would turn to Seesmic, TweetDeck and other such apps for their Twitter needs anyway. Threadsy is a more lightweight use case for Twitter, and I think it could be advantageous for its future to keep it that way.


UPDATE: Want to get started on Threadsy? After reading my post, the Threadsy CEO asked me to share this link with my readers to help you get started.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2009 8:55 pm

    Thanks for this thoughtful writeup. You have hit on many of things that we are trying to do at Threadsy.

    We view Threadsy as the world’s first integrated communication client. We are integrating the services that people use everyday into a single cohesive experience.

    You’ve hit on the many of the features and tradeoffs that we made while building the product. It’s true that we can’t be everything to everyone so we are trying to address 90% of the usage of each of the component service and then add new parts of the experience that you can’t get anywhere else.

    There are two big things we are doing to integrate the experience that you didn’t mention:

    1. Search – We are the only place where you can search across all of your social media and email accounts. You no longer have to remember which service someone used to send you a message because we cover them all.

    2. The Threadsy Profile. When you open an email or tweet in threadsy, we aggregate and present all of the social media accounts of the person sending you the message including their resume from linked in, their photos from facebook and flickr, their status updates from twitter and even their profile pages on amazon and pandora. We give you a complete picture of the sender.

    Thanks again for trying us and providing your feedback!


    (Founder and CEO of Threadsy)

  2. November 13, 2009 1:30 am

    Great post. And thanks for the beta link- I will be trying it out. I just got Google Wave so I don’t really have that to compare Threadsy to (yet), but I did use FriendFeed quite a bit which ultimately didn’t make a big impression on me.

    One thing I will add is that Twitter lists has totally changed how I use it… so at this point I’m not super anxious to add another place to my daily web diet. But I am excited to try it out!

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