It is now becoming very common across many of the internet companies to hold an annual developer event. The developers are now becoming key to success and eventual monetization as applications gain center stage and the internet companies move from the “data play” to “platform play”. Twitter has been toying with different business models and now it seems it has crystallized its road-map to a large extent. It held its developer conference in San Francisco on 14-15th April to announce the key initiatives and business strategies to the developer community. Here are some of the key takeaways from the conference:
1. Geo-Location (Places)
Twitter will maintain and curate its own database of locations, such as hotels and restaurants, and make the database open to developers. This should be an important addition given that location based services are seeing a resurgence on back of free navigation being offered by companies like Nokia and Google. Tweet+Location would be a strong monetization opportunity as location would provide the context to the tweets and make them more relevant. However, my concern is why will the tweeters share their location unless they get something in return.
2. The @anywhere
The @anywhere is a service that designed to make it easier for Twitter content to be directly incorporated into Web sites without using twitter.com or a client application. Announcing this service, Evan Williams said,
Users will be able to follow their favorite columnist or writer directly from the publishers’ site.
This means users would be able to follow, tweet and discover new accounts even when they are not on Twitter.com. Twitter’s initial launch partners will include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo, and YouTube. This service is akin to Facebook Connect and would allow users to use the Twitter account to log into other sites.
3. User Streams (Real Time data)
Twitter would make available the user streams to its developers to be incorporated into the applications. The developers could put the information to innovative use along. Along with the location information, based on the Tweet, relevant advertisement or service can be pushed, e.g. if somebody tweets “I am hungry” and his location is Oxford Street in London, then the offers from restaurants in the vicinity can be sent to the user. This information would be of immense value in the Web 3.0 (Real Time Web). Developers can provide different search functionalities to scan the user streams.
Twitter announced that it would allow the developers to add metadata to Twitter posts. This new tool is called annotations. Already, individual posts show which app someone used to write the post and the date, time and (if users choose to make it public) location. With annotations, developers will be able to add other material, which Twitter calls metadata, to Twitter posts. This could significantly expand the amount of information a post includes and could enhance the way Twitter is used. This feature would be available from next quarter. In my opinion, it is a significant give away by Twitter but a lot would depend on how the developers use it and how creative can they be. Developers would be able to put an identifier or any any other information that would help them to extract meaningful information from the huge data that is generated from the tweets.
5. Link shortener
Twitter plans to launch a link shortener service to make it easy for the tweeters to directly put the URLs into their tweets. Currently, the users have to visit a 3rd party website to be able to avail of this service. The addition of this functionality is likely to come from an acquisition that Twitter may announce soon.
6. Android Client
After buying Tweetie, one of the best iPhone application and releasing Blackberry application a week back, Williams announced Twitter client for Android at Chirp. However, he did not make it clear if it would 1st party application (like Blackberry) or a 3rd party application. My guess is that Twitter would like to keep the client with itself to get better control as it did in case of Blackberry and eventually iPhone by buying Tweetie.
Statistics on Twitter (Released at Chirp):
1. No of registered users: 106 million
2. New Users per day: 300,000
3. Daily Tweets: 55 million
4. No of people who log on to Twitter every month: 180 million (much more than registered users)
5. Percentage of all traffic to twitter comes from third party clients: 75%
6. Percentage of tweets come from third party clients: 60%
7. Percentage of active Twitter users employ mobile apps to connect: 37%
Mohit is a telecom professional with rich experience over 15 years. His expertise is in the area of strategy and planning and his work experience includes stints with two of Big 5 consulting organizations, a telecom operator and a handset vendor. Mohit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org