Is Twitter Trying To Lure You Back To

It has been an interesting week if you are following news about Twitter. After their launch of lists, most people probably figured that Twitter would get fairly quiet for a while. Well, it sounds like this is a different kind of Twitter team. Instead of waiting for a week or a month to go by, Twitter has let some other new items out of the bag.

First, to compliment their lists launch, they give us the List Widget. This widget allows you to embed the tweets of a list on your website. By itself, this is not major news, but we have not seen a new widget for a while.

Also this week, we got a small taste of trend curation. Twitter announced that they are finally going to do something about the trending topics:

we’re starting to experiment with improvements to trends that will help you find more relevant tweets. Specifically, we’re working to show higher quality results for trend queries by returning tweets that are more useful.

This is interesting because it shows another step in the fight against spam. However, there is also no mention of whether what they are doing affects all searches or this will be a new feature or whether this is being put into the API. At this point, it almost sounds like it will be a web only feature for now.

We also saw the limited rollout of retweets. This has been talked about for a while, and the API changes have been in the works for quite some time as well. However, the implementation is purely a visual idea, not as much a data idea.

Finally, there were a few really new tidbits this week that make the week very interesting. Twitter posted a note on their status blog about a new notification feature:

We’re starting a limited test of notifications on for when you have new tweets. So if one of the folks you follow has tweeted since you loaded your homepage, you’ll get a little notice saying “1 new tweet” that, when clicked, will display the new content.

This is not a shockingly new feature, it has been implemented on the search results pages for ages. However, the only reason you really need it is if you want people to know that something has been updated. Again, this is purely a feature and has no impact on the API.

They also announced that the Twitter web site will be available in Spanish. Localization is always a good thing if you are targeting a global audience. However, the question of why could arise. If you are dependent upon third party clients, and you expect the developer community to serve the users while you focus on infrastructure, localization is the last thing on your mind. So, why add localization? Well, if we have visual cues for retweets, a nice list implementation, notifications when new tweets have arrive and a better implementation for trending topics all available on, it almost sounds like you are sending a message to your developer community. It really looks like Twitter is beefing up its web client in order to draw more users back to the web. This is a great idea if you want to use display advertising as your revenue model.

There was another interesting note that came from Jesse Stay this morning. It seems like Twitter may be developing an iPhone application.

Twitter has long been criticized for the lack of a good native mobile client.  They have also admitted in the past that a new version of at least the mobile web client is in the roadmap.  Could they be taking this a step further and building an entire iPhone app out of it?

This raises an interesting question as well. If they are improving their web client and they are developing their own iPhone app, are they changing the rules? Are they finally going to compete with all of the third party applications that have sprouted up over the past few years? Jesse also brings up a very good point in his post, “your greatest competitor could just be your supplier”. Twitter developers have been put on notice, Twitter is improving its own applications and may be coming after you. So, how is that Facebook integration coming along?

15 thoughts on “Is Twitter Trying To Lure You Back To

  1. Jeff,

    I have thought about going back to the web client, but I need my lists from TweetDeck. That is where my base lists are and I just don’t want to spend the time recreating them. I may have to try out pbtweet, it looks like a fairly complete twitter client.


  2. Jesse, as a developer, has previously expressed his frustration with Twitter’s treatment of developers, and recent moves by Twitter that appear to be for only, and not for the API, seem to confirm his concerns.

    However, the one silver lining for developers is that when Twitter does things, Twitter does things its way, even if the users don’t like it. One of the criticisms of Twitter’s retweet implementation is that it does not allow the retweeter to add editorial comment. If this is important to you, you’ll run to the third party packages (I use Slandr for my retweets). So there is a bit of room for developers to innovate on the Twitter platform…


  3. John

    You bring up an interesting point, especially with retweets. The twitter implementation is done mostly for data tracking, but I am not entirely sure whether people will really like it. The third party clients can innovate but they can also broaden their scope into sites like Facebook to keep an edge.


  4. I never left for the desktop. Sure, I have a bunch of Twitter clients installed, but I leap off of them so frequently, there’s hardly any point in starting there. The only thing I find them useful for is to give me audible alerts that I’ve received a new tweet when I’m in the other room.

    I think of Twitter clients as ways of diminishing interaction — not adding to it. They make it too easy to stay within the self-contained environment. If you really want to get to know people on Twitter, it’s better to go directly to people’s Twitter pages to see their last 5-10 tweets to get a handle on what they care about than it is to just see them streaming by.

    Plus, if you have to engage with numerous Twitter accounts everyday, it’s more likely you’ll mis-tweet from the wrong account when you use a Twitter client. It’s easier to check yourself to know which account you’re tweeting form if you have a visual background that is completely different for every account.

    Social Profiles:


  5. CarriBugbee

    I agree with getting to know someone over their past few tweets, but after that you don’t really need as much history. However, I would have thought that multiple accounts would have pushed you to a third party client. You are one of the few people that I have heard with multiple accounts that prefers the web client. It is an interesting perspective though, clear delineation between accounts is a good thing.


  6. I’ve always wondered why Twitter sat back and let the third-party apps do all the things they didn’t and fully expected them to one day get on the ball. Now that the apps have shown them what can and should be done, they just need to implement the same functionality. But underhanded maybe, but not surprising.


  7. Hugh

    A majority of the original reasoning was Twitter’s focus on infrastructure and stability. This is fairly typical in a situation like Twitter and opening the API just adds to the application ecosystem. The third party clients were a big help in growing Twitter, but they have mostly expanded to include Facebook as well.


  8. Twitter has been making sure they can keep up with the huge influx of new users and haven’t been able to work on as many new features as they have wanted to (I don’t blame them). Instead, they have let API developers dictate how we currently perceive Twitter through the vast selection of widgets we use today.

    Twitter has finally caught up and is now banging out new features at an alarming speed. I, for one, am happy with lists and am interested to see how the new retweet will be in comparison to our current retweet.

    As for Twitter being translated into Spanish (or any other foreign language) or the site featuring the number of new incoming tweets, these features have been expected. Having Twitter in multiple languages makes it more accessible and will continue to expand the site’s already immense audience. As for featuring the number of incoming tweets, they’re cleaning up their site (just like when they implemented the new sizzling homepage) and trying to make it more gui friendly, which I applaud them for.

    On the topic of Twitter creating an iPhone application, they probably should have hopped on this band wagon a long time ago and glad that they are finally doing it.

    Overall, I’m excited to see what other new features and awesomeness they will be pulling out of their twitterful magician hat.


  9. ladyfox14

    Many of these new features have been talked about by Twitter before, but they rarely talked about any of them at the same time. Supposedly, the new location information is being rolled out soon too. It is very interesting to see these moves, and I am curious to see whether they can keep the pace of development.


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