When FireFox 1.0 was released, the sites hosting this eagerly awaited software effectively were overwhelmed by the number of users attempting to download it.
A colleague of mine referred to it as a Success Failure. What is that? It simply means that you have been so successful at getting the word out and getting people excited about the release that you fail to deliver as a result.
Given the background buzz and increasing frustration of people, it seems that Twitter is having the same thing right now. Question is not so much the cause (broken code? new hardware run amuck? old hardware groaning? a breakpoint in the number of users causing the system to seize up?), but the effect it is having.
High profile users of the service are upset. Regular users are wondering if it's time to seek an alternative.
Part of the frustration stems from the lack of updates from Twitter itself. For a service that is designed to provide people with flash updates of ongoing events, it appears that they are failing to make use of their own technology and approach. There a semi-secret Twitter Status timeline available (here).
I hope that the team at Twitter get it figured out soon, as I am a new addict to the system. I hate to think that I finally started on this meme at the precise moment that it collapsed.