Twitter Competitor T2 Rebrands as ‘Pebble’

Paresh Dave, writing for Wired:

Pebble, a Twitter-style service formerly known as T2, today launched a new approach: Users can skip past its “What’s happening?” nudge and click on a tab labeled Ideas with a lightbulb icon, to view a list of AI-generated posts or replies inspired by their past activity. Publishing one of those suggestions after reviewing it takes a single click.

Gabor Cselle, Pebble’s CEO, says this and generative AI features to come will enable a kinder, safer, and more fun experience. “We want to make sure that you see great content, that you’re posting great content, and that you’re interacting with the community,” he says.

Pebble, heretofore known as T2, had been in a similar place as Bluesky — a would-be direct replacement/alternative to Twitter, but hamstrung for growth by being invite-only. With this name change Pebble is open to all, using a system where Twitter/X users can claim the same handle on Pebble.

I’ve had an account for months, but find myself seldom using it. If Pebble’s status IDs are sequential, there have only been about 270,000 total posts made on the platform to date. There just isn’t much action there, even compared to Bluesky. And there’s really only so much time in the day to check in with multiple very similar social networks. I think there’s room for several Twitter-like services to thrive, but not for half a dozen of them.

But also, the Pebble team made the same decision as Post, another would-be-Twitter-replacement upstart that hasn’t gained traction: they don’t have an app, only a website that you can use like an app on your phone. [Update: Post did launch web-only, but now does have an app.] Has there ever been a successful social network in the last decade that didn’t debut with an app for iOS? Bluesky’s app isn’t great, but it’s better than a PWA, and I wonder how many normal people out there just don’t trust apps that don’t come from the App Store or Google Play. And, putting trust aside, I wonder how many people even know about adding PWAs to their home screens.

It’s very telling, I think, that Meta launched Threads only as a native app for iOS and Android, and even the web app version came over a month later. That big high-profile Threads launch would have been much smaller if they’d launched web-first.

Monday, 18 September 2023