Today and in the following weeks the twitter.com website will be extensively revamped. In a way, that remarkably resembles the new iPad Twitter app. The panes, “in app” pictures and videos etc. I’ve been using on my iPad Twitter-app, now seems duplicated to the new twitter.com website.
Basically it looks like we’re talking about the same application – only coded for two different devices. The distinction between “app” and “web” definitively blurs out. Which proves the web is not dead. Or does it?
The new twitter.com as presented by Twitter themselves:
The Twitter for iPad app presented by a YouTube (and iPad) user:
The twitter.com strategy seems to be a web-embracing, multi-platform strategy. In this way, the “the web is dead” maxim laid forth by Chris Anderson in the latest issue of Wired magazine (read my take on it here – in Danish) doesn’t apply to Twitter, it seems. “The web is dead” thesis states that companies prefer monopoly-like market structures, where they can dictate the price, shelved from the open markets competition. And that they, whenever they get the chance, will want to escape from the open web and create their own closed, non-competitive circles instead. They want to abandon the web and go for custom applications instead. But Twitter builds up their web-presence while building up app-presence as well.
At least two things explains why the twitter.com redesign move goes contrary to “web is dead”:
First, Twitter is not a content-company. It’s not about creating valuable content, which needs to be locked away to avoid it form being “stolen”. Twitter is about sharing information already existing out there. They need to be open and linkable to function. Therefore the open web is not a threat to Twitter. On the contrary: the open Internet is the Twitter prerequisite sine qua non.
Second, the web is not, and will not be, the most prominent way to either tweet or read tweets. Apps, especially mobile apps, will be. No matter how cool the twitter.com website is made, it will mostly serve to make twitter.com more visible and appealing, attracting new users. And it will set a standard of what tweeting is about.
Third, even though on the web, Twitter is not completely open. You have to be logged in to use the system – and using twitter is only fun if you invest further in your twitter-profile by adding people to follow – and getting someone to follow you. This all makes it harder for you to leave the system.
The real “web is dead”-test lies elsewhere: Will the Twitter API – which allows third parties to make their own Twitter-apps drawing on what’s going on in Twitter – remain completely open? From a commercial point of view, Twitter should be trying to close it off, asap. And only this April Twitter did make a move this way, buying the most successful third-party app out there, Tweetie re-branding it as the Twitter-app.
Will Twitter keep the playing field all level, treating competing apps and their own Twitter-app alike – or will Twitter introduce layers of data or develop special functions which are “Twitter”-only, serving to keep Twitter as an isle of it’s own, fenced from competition . I say the latter. But that’s for time to tell.