Twitter seems bent on developing official alternatives to all the third party software and services individuals have developed. After releasing a Blackberry Twitter client, and buying an iPhone client, Twitter is announcing they intend to create their own URL shortening service. Evan Williams himself made the announcement at Chirp. Until now, Bit.ly has been tightly integrated with the social networking service, that partnership seems uncertain now.
This isn't coming completely out of left field, though. Twitter investor Fred Wilson strongly suggested in a blog post that URL shortening services would do well to stop relying on Twitter. The speculation is that the recently acquired twee.tt domain would be used for this purpose. Twitter already has short URL service called twt.tl that is used as an anti-spam system for direct messages.
If Twitter does indeed go through with this, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of Bit.ly. Third-party twitter clients could still continue to use the service, though its roll may be decreased. The Bit.ly Pro service could help them along as well. What do you think about Twitter's course of action? Do you feel sorry for developers, or should they have known this could happen?
Yes, we actually made an "All Your Base" reference, and trust us, we feel terrible about it. But it was the first thought that came to mind when we caught wind that the Library of Congress had acquired every public tweet ever made. That's right, all your spelling errors -- intentional or otherwise -- and witty 140-character musings are now forever preserved in the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States.
"It is out pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research," Twitter announced on its blog. "It's very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the tweets be used for internal library use for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation."
This 'only' includes public twitter messages and not direct messages or the "tiny percentage of accounts that are protected." According to Twitter, 105 million registered users send out some 55 million tweets a day, "and that number is climbing sharply."
Twitter's challenge has never been about finding users. According to comScore, the microblogging service had 22.3 million unique visitors in March, an increase of 524,000 from one year ago. And that doesn't even include the millions of users who access Twitter from third-party smartphone and Web applications.
The challenge, then, has been about turning those usage numbers into revenue. Twitter has so far relied on cash infusions from investors and some deals to license its stream of posts to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, but that's about to change. Twitter this week unveiled an advertising platform called Promoted Tweets, finally answering the question of how Twitter plans to turn a profit.
The way it works is users will see these Promoted Tweets when searching for keywords that advertisers have purchased to link to their ads. A handful of companies are already on board with this, including Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks, and Bravo.
"The idea behind Promoted Tweets is that we want to enhance the communications that companies are already having with customers on Twitter," said Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief operating officer.
These ads will appear at the top of the search results, even if it was written much earlier, and in small type. Roll over the message and the post will turn yellow. Companies will also be able to enter the conversation should things take a turn for the worse. For example, a movie studio could link to positive reviews if a flick is getting a negative reaction on Twitter.
Fans of Twitter who own a BlackBerry can cast aside any lingering feelings of Android or iPhone OS envy. Why so? The uber popular microblogging site has teamed up with Research in Motion to develop a Twitter app for BlackBerry, which is now available for download.
"When you talk about messaging and mobile phones, BlackBerry immediately comes to mind and it was no surprise to us that it has become one of the most popular mobile platforms for Twitter around the world," Twitter's Kevin Thau wrote in a blog post.
The app features real-time BlackBerry push of Twitter direct messages, camera and photo gallery integration, browser integration for Tweeting links, a customizable interface for changing fonts and hiding toolbars, notifications of @mentions, the ability to search for users, content, and trending topics, and a few other odds and ends.
When Twitter was first developed, the microblogging service built up a following mostly concentrated in San Francisco. Boy how times have changed. According to Matt Sanford, lead engineer for Twitter's International team, the social networking site is seeing phenomenal growth around the globe.
Over 60 percent of registered Twitter accounts originate from outside the US, Sanford notes, including some from smaller countries like the Vatican City. Technically, there's an even an account that originated from outer space.
Part of Twitter's International success has come from making the service available in different language. When Twitter was made available in Spanish, for example, Sanford says the site saw a 50 percent boost in signups from Spanish-speaking countries. World events also have played a big role, such as the Chilean earthquake, in which signups shot up 12000 percent, almost all of which were from those who use Spanish as their primary language.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sanford said. "Twitter's realtime information network gets more useful as our users grow more diverse and we're continually impressed with the results."
Update: Last chance to enter! We're drawing the winner this afternoon!
Spring is in the air, and you know what that means. Flowers blooming? Birds singing? Romance in the air? No way. This is Maximum PC, and we celebrate the vernal equinox the same way the ancient druids did: by giving away one bad-ass gaming PC. That's right, we're going to give one lucky reader a $3000 gaming rig from iBUYPOWER, sporting Intel's blistering-fast 6-core Gulftown i7 CPU.
To get your name into the random drawing, you'll need to follow us on Twitter and retweet this message. We'll pick a winner with a random drawing on Monday, April 5, 2010.
Google Buzz is making all the wrong noises. It has been the talking point among privacy and digital rights activists ever since it launched. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit privacy advocacy group, wasted little time in highlighting several privacy issues with Buzz in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In fact, it went ahead with the complaint despite Google making some crucial changes to address some of the major concerns.
Now, Google's failure to make Buzz an opt-in service has landed the company in further trouble. This time around, a bipartisan group comprising 11 congressmen has formally raised the matter with the FTC. "We are writing to express our concern over claims that Google's 'Google Buzz' social networking tool breaches online consumer privacy and trust. Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this—either directly or indirectly—we feel that these claims warrant the Commission's review of Google's public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz," they wrote in a letter to the FTC. Google would want to avoid a probe by making Buzz an opt-in service.
The real victim here might be Fancois Cousteix, an unemployed Frenchman who goes by the online handle "Hacker Croll." Sure, he's accused of hacking into Twitter and poking around the accounts of President Barack Obama and singers Britney Spears and Lily Allen, but he's a nice guy - just ask him.
"I'm a nice hacker," Cousteix told France 3 television on Thursday, a day after he was released from police questioning.
According to "Hacker Croll," there was no malicious intent, and in fact he wanted to warn Internet users about data security. By breaking into celebrity and high profile accounts. On Twitter.
"He says it's the challenge, the game, that made him do it," said Jean-Yves Coquillat, prosecutor in Clermont-Ferrand, where the suspect will go to trial in June for hacking.
Though he didn't profit from the hacked accounts, Cousteix stands to serve up to two years in prison and a fine of nearly $41,000 if convicted on the charge of breaking into a data system.
It looks like Google isn't the only one wanting to ride the gravy social computing gravy train a la Twitter (though Twitter is still looking for ways to cash in on its microblogging service). Microsoft has big plans too, and it starts with OfficeTalk.
According to what we can glean from Microsoft's Office Labs blog, OfficeTalk is basically a social networking tool somewhat similar to Twitter, but intended for the enterprise market.
"[OfficeTalk] appiles the base capabilities of microblogging to a business environment, enabling employees to post their thoughts, activities, and potentially valuable information to anyone who might be interested," Microsoft wrote. "Like any good researcher, we have tested this concept on ourselves first and insights surfaced quickly."
As it currently stands, Microsoft makes it clear that OfficeTalk isn't a product, but a research project focused on learning how people might use social networking tools at work. The next step, Microsoft says, is to take the OfficeTalk concept, along with other social networking experiments, outside of Redmond's walls and into the hands of a few customers.
How much time do you spend every day sending out Twitter updates to all of your followers? Probably too much time, according to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, who would like to see you spend less time on his microblogging service.
"We have a bit of a dichotomy because there's more and more stuff every day that you may want to follow on Twitter, or search for," Williams said during SXSWi 2010. "Our goal is not to just maximize that -- we understand that people have a limited amount of time and attention and our hope is that Twitter can help you direct your attention in ways that are useful to you.
"So we have no interest in just increasing the time you spend on the Twitter site -- if anything we'd like to decrease it. We want to make Twitter a tool for you that helps you get stuff done."
Put another way, Williams wants to "increase the signal-to-noise ratio" and give Twitter users more valuable information with less effort. This begs the question, what exactly is Twitter?
"The funny thing about being an information network is that it's kind of like saying 'what is the internet?' -- it's an information network. 'What's it for?' -- it's kind of hard to narrow that down, because it depends on who you are and what you need at the time. And that's like Twitter."