Analyzing Seesmic’s Next Move: Moving Online To The Offline?

SeesmicIt’s quite interesting to see how Seesmic has progressed over the years. I remember how they used to be focused on trying to be the video version of Twitter (minus the 140 character limit) and that people were going around posting video conversations of themselves on the site. Soon it was integrated into commenting systems like Disqus and for a second it seemed that Seesmic was going to continue on with its “conversational video for the web” service and that it was picking up steam. But for reasons totally unbeknownst to this writer, Seesmic seemed to pivot and change its strategy from video content creation to one of servicing the Twitter community. And it all started with their purchase of the Twhirl Twitter third-party client application. At one point it seemed that the company was trying to sink its teeth into multiple touch points and offer its services to the masses.

From its humble beginnings to what?

Eventually the team moved entirely away from video conversations and instead dove into the Twitter marketplace to compete with the #1 desktop application at the time, Tweetdeck. Since then, it seemed that Seesmic would settle down and become a Twitter client that people would use to communicate with their friends and followers. But just how will they make money? How would they decidely find a way to separate themselves from Tweetdeck? I mean, after all, Tweetdeck and Seesmic were, at that point, the exact same product…they both offered the same features so there was no competitive advantage that the general public thought about.

A few weeks ago, Twitter held its first (and rumored only) developer conference. The Chirp conference was designed to get all the third-party developers in one room talking to the Twitter team to make the developer-service relationship that much better. However, it soon seemed like Seesmic might have been in trouble when Twitter announced some controversial moves that got the development community in an uproar. It was during this brief period that it seemed that Seesmic’s very existence and purpose seemed in flux. In fact, I have heard some people wonder what the heck is Seesmic doing offering services to access Twitter – there didn’t seem to be an end game in sight.

This raccoon has more than one life left.

Seesmic and Poker GameWell surprisingly, there is another move to be played in this poker game that Seesmic is playing. In fact, it seems that Seesmic has managed to push past its critics to branch out beyond just being a Twitter client. I believe that wasn’t what Seesmic wanted to be and their founder, Loic Le Meur (@loic), also believes that as well – he even commends Twitter for their work, but I think the story here isn’t that Seesmic will live on as a Twitter client, but rather as a social media client.

Once Seesmic decided to pivot their business, it didn’t seem entirely clear what they would do to accomplish being a social media service provider. After starting off with Twitter, they slowly moved towards integrating Facebook and then acquired Ping.FM into their arsenal. And to help Seesmic make the web much more available wherever you are, they even developed mobile applications for the Android, Blackberry and iPhone with frequent updates to make it easy for you to update people.

We often hear that software developers want their products to live “in the cloud”…that is, your data isn’t stored in one location in their office, but is accessible from anywhere you want. It’s always present. As a result, services are now trying to convince people that you need to be online to access and modify your data – whatever it is. But in Seesmic’s case, they seem to be taking the reverse and instead of making you be on a browser, they’re moving that accessibility to your desktop. But don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to need to be online to make changes to your social media content, but Seesmic seems to be undertaking a task to centralize your input mechanisms – in essence, they’re creating a social media dashboard, one that might actually have a legitimate chance at being taken seriously.

Centralized intelligence

Just imagine no longer needing to have multiple browsers or tabs open at any given day while at work or at home and still being able to update your status – this is probably really crucial for brands who are interested in maintaining their social media presence. What interesting things await users of Seesmic? Well for one, the introduction of Google Buzz into Seesmic – just announced today at Google I/O, the search giant’s developer conference. And they’re just getting started…they’re not combining Google Buzz with a slew of other Google Apps that will help make it a more powerful editing and updating mechanism.

But Seesmic also seems to understand that people are not entirely sold on just having a desktop application – some people may be set in their ways on how they view things online, or they may not be able to install desktop applications on their computer or another host of issues – but regardless of the reason, @loic has made a pretty good effort to mirror what you see on Seesmic Desktop onto a web platform as well. In essence, they’re able to marry the offline with the online to create multiple places for you to find and update your social profiles.

So now Seesmic makes more sense?

I, along with others, have a lack of understanding of what “Seesmic” is and its affiliation with a raccoon as a logo. For the longest time I had no idea about how to decipher the brand. But now as I think more about it, combined with the latest developments by the Seesmic team, I start to “get it”. So here’s my explanation about what the Seesmic brand is all about:

  • When I hear “Seesmic”, I focus on the “see” part where it shows you a picture of your social graph and shows you your social media presence and activity.
  • The raccoon associated with the brand is a scavenger (isn’t that what raccoons are?) and that’s what Seesmic is doing…scavenging the web to create a pile of profiles and social media activity for us to find in one central place.

So that’s my thoughts on Seesmic…I’m seeing them expand themselves more and I believe that we shouldn’t see them as just a Twitter desktop client. They’re just so much more.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."