Recently I started using the official Twitter app on my iPhone. As someone who has steadfastly used the superior Tweetbot I enjoy going back to the official Twitter app after every major iteration to test out the designs and changes. In my line of work you have to know what your customers are using in order to provide the most engaging content. The biggest change of this new Twitter was the addition of a few blue lines in order to group conversations. The change itself wasn’t exactly mind blowing but it caused me to replace the official Twitter app as my default app.
Why? Why do blue lines make me want to switch? Because they’re a sign of how far Twitter has come and where it is going to go.
This morning Twitter confidentially filed for IPO in order to take the company public. Considering the complete shambles that was the Facebook IPO and the massive loss of Wall Street confidence (though the stock today closed at its highest ever) it’s hard to imagine that the Twitter IPO will be as artificially inflated.
Yet going public is just step one of how Twitter will be changing. Over the last several years since Twitter was unveiled it has gone through an evolution that would make Charles Darwin proud. Originally simply a text based medium it has now opened up its own video recording service, music service and has become a full-blown media company in its own right. It has partnered with television stations in order to bring both new and old media together. Whilst Twitter will always be available on the desktop it is well known that its heart, and future, truly lies in mobile.
Why does Twitter partner with groups such as ESPN, NBA and Bloomberg? Because it knows how people have begun to consume television. It knows that people are watching television with a second screen in front of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a laptop, iPhone or iPad because it simply matters that they’re on Twitter. Television shows have begun to embrace this by actively promoting the hashtag for the show on the screen. It allows for people to have more in depth conversations about a single topic. Many shows are now beginning to actively display tweets on the screen as people watch.
Yet that also is just one pillar of the new Twitter company. The biggest one will be in media consumption. According to today’s New Yorker Twitter is preparing to roll out a completely separate iPhone app. The article notes that it was previously Twitter’s focus to ensure that each platform mimics the other. This way, no matter what device you were on you would have the same, uniform Twitter experience. In hindsight that’s probably not the best idea. Many people won’t change their phones or tablets for at least 18-24 months and so there’s no need to ensure that you know that your Twitter experience will be the same on Android as it is for iPhone. However it also means that each platform isn’t able to take advantage of the power of each OS. This severely limits the ability for Twitter to truly shine. Android phones have advantages over iPhones and vice-versa. Luckily it seems that they’ve now begun to realise this.
Twitter has truly evolved over the last several years. It has become less of a place to interact with and alert friends but more of a place to truly consume media. With this morning’s IPO announcement it seems that Twitter is hoping to make (more) money….let’s just hope that the benefits of such a large sum of cash are beneficial to users as well as its future shareholders.