Is a 140 character limit so important?

I was listening to TWiT 134 and the discussion about Twitter and Pownce’s APIs and I started thinking about Pownce versus Twitter again. I know, I know, this is not a new story and I am going to try not to get into the same old one versus another debate here.

For starters I agree with many commentators who say that it isn’t a Twitter versus Pownce issue because both have their place. What I have been thinking about is the emphasis on 140 characters and that characteristic of Twitter as one of its benefits. I suppose being forced to keep messages short ensures (in theory) that you publish direct and pithy messages and that has value. I am not sure how big an issue this is for users. I have also seen Twitter become a kind of IRC channel and I am not entirely comfortable with that mainly because I got into Twitter as a status update service, not a chat service per se. That may just be me though and a function of Twitter not having integrated and threaded comments.

I understand that the 140 character limit on Tweets is primarily because sms messages in the USA are limited to 140 characters. Firstly our sms limit is 160 characters and it is probably fair to say that most people have phones capable of handling more than one 160 characters part in a message. I could be talking out my butt, I don’t think so.

pownce-logo-tagline.jpgAnyway, one thing with Pownce is that the messages are not limited. If you take into account the Pownce mobile site (, the AIR desktop application and the site itself (not to mention what I understand to be a pretty potent API), I wonder what the importance of the 140 character limit is. Services like Pownce can do what Twitter does and a bit more so it begs the question what Twitter’s massive appeal is? The next question is whether Twitter’s strained infrastructure will have an impact on Twitter’s userbase?

I don’t really know what the answer is. I use Pownce and Twitter and have the Pownce desktop app and Twhirl (my current favourite Twitter app – also runs on Adobe AIR) running. I use both for different things and enjoy both. I guess time will tell how these services fare on the ever changing Web.

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