Will Twitter's Integration Into Apple's New iOS Change Its Nature?
When it comes to Twitter, much has been said this week about
Weiner's weiner, uh, Apple's integration of Twitter into the newest version of its iOS, coming this fall to an iPad, an iPhone, or an iPod Touch near you.
Basically, this means it will be easier to share things via Twitter on Apple mobile devices than it ever has been before. For those who love a
good sex scandal rivalry -- and who in this business doesn't? -- this also means that it will be easier to tweet a photo than to share it via a Facebook status update.
Which makes me far from the first person this week to wonder how
Anthony Weiner could be so dumb this changes things for Twitter, beyond the obvious observation that it is now the Apple of Steve Jobs' eye. With iPad sales alone at 25 million units (with another eight million expected this quarter), more than 18 million iPhones being sold in the first quarter, and millions upon millions of iPod Touches out in the market, that makes for a lot of people who will finally have a compelling reason to use or sign up for Twitter who didn't have a need for it before.
That's good news, since, to some people at least, Twitter has recently been vision-challenged. After all, there's nothing like being blessed by Steve Jobs himself to bring things sharply into focus.
But the integration will do something more than increase the likelihood that
other politicians will get caught sextweeting more people will use Twitter; it could also lead to changes in the nature of Twitter itself.
The crux of the matter is how Twitter relationships differ from Facebook ones. Facebook relationships are inherently more committed. The agreed-upon value exchange -- that both sides have to sign off on being friends with one another -- changes the nature of what gets posted for most of us. I'm more likely to filter what I post to friends than to followers, which is why I, like a lot of people, decoupled my Facebook and Twitter accounts long ago. While I've used Twitter to talk about Facebookian stuff like the Grammys, the Mets and the weather, it is still much more of a self-promotional platform than Facebook is.
So, let's say that I want to share a photo on my iPod Touch (no, boys and girls, my mobile phone is on the Android platform). The reason is ease of use, not whom I'm sending the photo to. Well, frankly, while I might tweet a picture of the conference I'm at, the scenery I'm looking at, or,
if I'm Anthony Weiner, my deal, my cat, I'm probably not going to share a photo of my kids. Forget ease of use; Twitter is not the right platform for that.
So how does this change Twitter? The first thing that jumps to mind is that Apple's integration will lead to an explosion in the use of features that currently aren't used all that much: those that allow you to make your Twitter account much more private, such as the ability to block followers or protect tweets.
It also could lead to another reason for an explosion in new accounts: that some people would have private and public ones for the two parts of their persona. Previous to Apple's integration, Facebook has served more of the private function.
But for an individual user to turn Twitter into something more Facebook-like is a lot of work, and also depends on much of your social graph is actually on Twitter. Depending on your station in life, that's certainly not something you can depend on. As this column is an example of thinking out loud, that makes me wonder something: while Twitter will no doubt benefit from its tight new partnership with Apple, did Apple pick the wrong partner? Would it have made more sense for users to pick Facebook instead?
And should Anthony Weiner resign?