Around the same time that the "Obamacare" website debuted with a rather rocky (to say the least) rollout, Twitter raised more than $2 billion with its initial stock offering -- and ended up with a market worth of around $25 billion. It was a somewhat ironic juxtaposition, given the technology problems that so often plagued Twitter in its early days.
Long-time Twitter users remember the "fail whale"well -- a logo shown when the service was over capacity and thus unusable. In fact, the fail whale was displayed so often that the logo became a popular social media icon. Yet Twitter supporters stuck with the service, the infrastructure problems were fixed, and Twitter is now a social media success -- flawed launch and all.
There's a somewhat similar, if less spectacular, delayed success story for Apple maps. Remember how universally panned Apple's new mapping application was when it debuted last year? Well, Apple got the last laugh after all, attracting almost 60% of iPhone users while Google Maps shed 22 million users. Why? Despite the initially bad product -- so bad that Apple CEO issued a public apology to users -- the app was revamped and fixed.
Of course it's a bit more important for the federal government to offer access to life-saving health insurance than it was for Twitter to offer 100% uptime back in 2008 or Apple to offer a superior map app. And in the case of a website tied to a specific event -- say, a candidate's Election Day campaign site meltdown -- getting it right on day one matters.
But if a) you're willing to forget about the politics and b) you've followed Web technology over the years, you know that, somewhat counterintuitively given the speed that the Internet moves, getting it right on day one isn't always what matters. What's important is getting things right soon enough.
So, I'm ignoring all the hysteria around healthcare.gov's botched initial rollout -- and if you care about the substance of the issue, not the politics, so should you. Instead, pay attention to whether the problems are fixed in a timely manner. That is what will tell you whether the program has a chance at success.
Just ask any of the 1,600 new Twitter millionaires.