Despite all the fan-fare in 2009, 'the real time web' was soon forgotten about. I suspect it was largely because of two problems:
- Real time applications only work if there is a sufficient critical mass of people available in 'real time'
- Does real time interaction makes sense for the application?
In contrast, Twitter's initial sweet spot was in helping people at conferences and events - a critical mass of people - interact and co-ordinate easily between each other. The use case has since broadened to include events beyond conference - such as uprisings in middle-eastern countries.
Yet, the increasing popularity of smart-phones and Internet-enabled devices mean that people are increasingly becoming plugged in to the Internet constantly, rather then just when they sit by their desktop and open a web-browser. The first of the two problems for the failures in real time applications in 2009 - the availability of people to interact with - will soon disappear.
This leaves just the second problem - that of finding suitable applications. This, I believe, is the challenge and opportunity for the next generation of startups.