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Twitching Over Twitter

Twitter
Twitter

Like a 2009 version of "Less Filling" versus "Tastes Great", there's a smackdown going on in cyberland over whether Twitter www.twitter.comhas legs.

One camp believes the micro-blogging site is here to stay, and, even if it's not, it's so hot at the moment that you've got to Tweet.

Yet even though Twitter has proven groundbreaking - the first reports of the Mumbai bombings came via Twitter - others believe the site is mostly a frivilous piece of vapid self-indulgence that won't last.

Nielsen has come out with a report titled "Twitter Quitters",which says that 60 percent of users quit Twitter after one month. A 40 percent retention rate, the reports says, is not promising for long-time growth. "There simply aren't enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point," says David Martin, VP of Primary Research for Nielsen Online. On the other hand, he adds, "Maybe we're jumping the gun. Twitter is still something of a fledgling, and surely some other sites that eventually lived up to Twitter-like hype suffered from poor retention in the early days." But he provides a chart showing that Facebook and MySpace did a better job retaining users even in their early days.

I am on Twitter, and I'm still trying to figure out how to leverage it. Sometimes I use it to tease the blog, sometimes I use it to point out observations or give information that doesn't warrant a full-blown news story. But even within CNBC.com, there is great debate about Twitter's future. Our own "Pony" blogger Cindy Permanjokes that, "Twitter is going to be a fad like mullets and break dancing." But Darren Rovell(www. twitter.com/@darrenrovell1) says, "I'm the guy that buys the TV now. I don't wait until the next one comes out. The good thing about Twitter is that, unlike a TV, it's free. If Ning or Ping or whatever is the next thing happens, and Twitter is left in the dust, I'll jump to that."

And what might be the next thing? Check out "Flutter", the new Twitter. Not.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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