What does time to market really mean? Beyond face value, Time to Twitter sets up a grotesque caricature of the real evolution of Twitter as an idea. Going by the original sketches, Twitter was conceived a full six years before it was actually released online. The basic idea was latent in the mind of its creator for years until the right combination of circumstances catalyzed the emergence of an actual product.
What this tells us is that the relationship between innovation and market acquisition is more intricate and complex than can be summed up in a nicely compacted sound bite. There's a wide gulf between the state of startups now and actual new ideas that are primarily guided by the intent to improve or augment human communication rather than instantiate a business model. It would be a mistake to pin down Twitter's success as merely an effect of a particular software technology enabling the creators to push an idea out to market faster than anyone else. That Twitter got there first is undeniable, but there's a little more to the story than simply a lightbulb flash of an idea followed by furious months coding to fire that first bottle rocket into the online marketplace.