Twitter Sports More Mobile Style
Twitter is focusing on bringing control of its peripheral functions in house and giving its mobile users an enhanced experience. "It made the Twitter experience consistent across mobile platforms," said Renay San Miguel, chief content officer for Splash Media. "They've seen what Facebook has done to incorporate those and chose some of the things they think will work for Twitter."
09/19/12 10:15 AM PT
Twitter unveiled a new design for its iPad, iPhone and Android users this week, offering a more streamlined look on its mobile apps and asserting more control over how its mobile users interact with the social network.
Twitter's revamped apps are now common across Apple and Android phones. TThe iPad app gets a makeover that adds the Home, Me, Connect and Discover categories to the left hand side of the page. Users can also tap a Tweet or linked photos or videos to expand them and view the links.
A user can now also add a background header photo to their profile that will appear on both their mobile Twitter apps and on the site. The image, which will be larger than the profile photo, is meant to complement a user's profile picture. Those images will now be included in that users' photo stream.
The updated header photo seems to take a page from Facebook's recent addition of a banner photo across user profile pages, and gives the site and app the more visual appeal that is popular with social media and sites such as Pinterest.
"In terms of the redesign, it made the Twitter experience consistent across mobile platforms," Renay San Miguel, chief content officer for Splash Media, a social media marketing firm based in Dallas, told the E-Commerce Times. "It's clear it looks a lot like Facebook, with the background picture and the photo stream. There is more access to visuals and graphics. They've seen what Facebook has done to incorporate those and chose some of the things they think will work for Twitter."
Taking More Control
Aside from the more streamlined look, Twitter's redesign also gives the site more control over how its users use the site. That's critical for the start-up social network that has been helped along by third-party developers that created programs such as Tweet Deck, Twit Pic and Hootsuite.
With Twitter's rise as one of the most popular social networks, it started to make acquisitions of popular apps like Tweet Deck, but the latest redesign efforts effectively shut out some more of the photo and consumer-focused apps. While that gives Twitter greater earning power, it also runs the risk of alienating the innovators who helped Twitter grow, said San Miguel.
"If you're a developer, you might be thinking that you helped bring Twitter to the forefront, and now they're telling you 'Thanks, we'll take it from here,'" he said.
The social network needs to take care it doesn't completely divide itself from the people who made Twitter one of the top three social networks, said San Miguel, especially in such a rapidly evolving social media landscape where sites need to be one step ahead of the game to remain relevant.
"It is also a challenge for developers if they want to still work with Twitter," he said. "If they can find ways to figure out how businesses can help tell their stories, or find ways to deliver data about usage on Twitter, they will probably still give developers access. But anything consumer-oriented is going to be tossed aside."
Gaining in Mobile
As long as Twitter can keep its relationship with developers alive and well, that increase in control is essential for the company, since it might, in the near future, have to convince investors why it's the social network to bet on going forward.
"From a business-model standpoint, Twitter wants to bring every potential revenue stream under the Twitter umbrella, including advertising," said San Miguel. "If there's an IPO in the future, they will need to show the shareholders and potential investors that they have control of everything coming in."
Twitter is hoping much of that revenue will be on mobile, hence the overhaul and streamlining of the Android and iOS apps this week. Without a stronghold on that market, it can't compete in the evolving web scene, said Stowe Boyd, chief researcher at World Talk Research and analyst at GigaOM Pro.
"I believe that Facebook and Twitter are the high water mark of the Web 2.0 era of social networks. The next wave -- over the horizon at present -- will be based on mobile rather than Web, and built into next-gen operating platforms that are social at the core."