Three Reasons Why Heello Could Be a Success

Since the Heello.com service started earlier this month I have seen and heard many people say that Twitter users are not going to pack their bags and move to Heello so it is doomed to failure. On the first point I might agree but I do not believe that this means it cannot succeed. I don't say it necessarily will succeed but here I am going to give you three reasons why it could succeed.

Just in case you missed the announcement, Heello is a microblogging site that is today essentially a copy of Twitter where tweets are called "pings", retweets are called "echoes" and so on. Today (19 August 2011) only the most basic features are available and not all of those work reliably but this is still work in progress. For beginners it is probably better to wait but for the pros it is interesting to watch the problems get fixed and the features added. You also have the chance to ask for the features you need. For the moment you can ping, echo, reply and search users. A direct message feature is in the menu but it doesn't work for me. Other things like URL shortening, spam blocking and so on are not available yet.

Since Heello is not even working yet and there is a well established market leader in this space does it have any chance at all of being successful? Here are my three reasons why it could.

FIRST, I concede that Twitter users are not likely to pack their bags and move all their conversations to Heello. The last time that happened was when Google ousted Altavista as mayor of search. But this is not the normal mechanism for replacements. It wasn't Myspace users who moved to Facebook but new users choosing Facebook over Myspace that drove the shift. New users are being born every minute and this drives the gradual shifts in music, fashion and social media.

SECOND, though Heello might look like a Twitter clone today it can readily evolve and by adding a feature become something very different -- just like they added pictures to radio to make TV. This is much easier to do in the early stages so Heello has an advantage in the evolution game. I suspect that they have a vision in mind that is not direct competition to Twitter, perhaps creating a media agnostic platform that works in the same way for text, audio and video. There is also a possibility that they are looking ahead to the emergent social media landscape of 2012 and beyond. What will happen when there are competitors in every space? Will third party interfaces like Hootsuite control the user experience? Will mobile companies try to move into this area with their own clients and start shopping around for a neutral infrastructure service? Perhaps then Heello could shift to a B2B focus, just like Max Niederhofer's people search engine Qwerly.com dropped the consumer interface (I was one of the few who managed to claim a profile) and now focus on API services for B2B customers.

THIRD, Heello founder Noah Everett has a track record; he is well known as the entrepreneur behind TwitPic. This does not mean that he cannot make mistakes but he is part of the social media startup community so he must know more than something about the business and, more importantly, his experience using the Twitter API must mean he knows very well the problems API users have had and what they would like to have in future.

So Heello could be successful though not necessarily by killing Twitter. Maybe it creates a new space completely and a year from now we will be talking about the lastest Heello killer. We shall see. Right now, though, I wish they had given more thought to the branding, which is hard enough for English speakers and a challenge for everyone else. But then again rebranding is still possible when you are not yet a household name.

Since it could be a major player sometime in the future I recommend that you register all your bands while the names are still available. Some companies have already done this but many more are moving very slowly.

Andrew Hennigan is on Heello at http://heello.com/andrewhennigan

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