Twitter just posted a triumphant blog entry about the success of owning “official” applications on all mobile fronts. One interesting trivia from the graph is that Twitter’s iPhone client accounts for 8% of unique users. As a result mobile users “jumped 62 percent”.
This strategy has been quite successful. Total mobile users has jumped 62 percent since mid-April, and, remarkably, 16 percent of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now, as opposed to the five percent before we launched our first Twitter-branded mobile client. As we had hoped in April, these clients are bringing more people into Twitter, and, even better, they are attracting and retaining active users. Indeed, 46 percent of active users make mobile a regular part of their Twitter experience.
Twitter’s growth and evolution is really an interesting story. They take something really simple, sharing 140 characters of text with an asymmetric friend graph (you can friend but not be friended), open api for reading and writing, then let the community do the rest. Up until now, all the innovations outside of the scaling woes for the backend were all community-driven. The use of “@” for replies and “#” for topics was started by users, search was an external service that got bought out, Tweetie was acquired to become Twitter for iPhone, the twitter button was done by tweetmeme before they provided an official version, and url shortening (to conform to 140 characters) was outsourced to tinyurl then bit.ly though they’re rolling out their own. About the only thing they haven’t taken over yet is the sharing of pictures. I would not be surprised if they rolled something out before the end of the year.
The pro for Twitter is greater control over their brand image not to mention access to better data and ability to reach users. Their moves are already paying off in terms of accelerating their growth further. However, when you look at the innovation that came out of third-party solutions it becomes apparent that Twitter needs to start innovating in-house to keep their competitive edge rather than poaching their eco system for exciting ideas. The reason why Twitter’s eco system thrived so much is because they had one of the hottest services to emerge in years yet they left so much money on the table for features that users were hungry for.
One question for readers, are there any other areas Twitter can grow or the eco system can provide? It seems like the eco system is looking pretty solid right now.