During the past week or so, it's been nearly impossible to avoid the near constant discussions among various bloggers and media sites about Twitter, the funky little service that lets anyone share with anyone what they're doing right now. It is, for all intents and purposes, a simple interface for presence information. People use it to say what they're doing, and lots of others then can follow what they're doing -- while updating their own Twitter information as well. The random tipping point explosion of a service may be somewhat interesting, but it's been covered to death. What seems extra striking, however, is that the same week that Twitter hit the mainstream,a company called Tello disappeared. While Twitter is almost the definition of the accidental startup (created out of the the confusion over what the folks at Odeo wanted to be doing), Tello was supposed to be the "big business" answer to the presence question. Backed by a ton of big industry names, including Craig McCaw, John Sculley and Jeff Pulver, Tello was supposed to provide the key to bringing presence beyond instant messaging (where it had traditionally been stuck) into many other applications. Yet the company has disappeared, and a simple little accidental web app that can be built into tons of other stuff has become a web 2.0 darling. There's no telling if Twitter has any staying power or really will take the prize for achieving what many have been looking for in terms of "presence" solutions, but it does seem like a fascinating contrast to see how the story of Tello compares to that of Twitter.
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