Is iOS5 really a game changer for Twitter?

A lot is made of Apple‘s recent announcement that their latest mobile operating system – iOS5 – would incorporate a deep integration with Twitter. See example articles here and here.

In the battle between Facebook and Twitter as the poster child for the social world this is huge news, but will it really answer Twitter’s key issues.

I love Twitter, so I don’t want this to sound like I’m a twitter-hater, but I think we need to take a pragmatic look at what Twitter needs and what iOS brings.

Over the next couple of paragraphs I will iterate what I see as being the key things this deal will bring.  Feel free to disagree with me and pick holes in my arguments.

For full disclosure, thanks to a developer friend I have iOS5 with its Twitter integration.

  1. Brand awareness – I would hazard a guess that most people are aware of Twitter, what it is and what it does, so not sure that this deal will really accelerate or enhance that.  What it will do is increase…
  2. Registered users current numbers suggest that Twitter has around 200m users.  This deal will have a massive impact on the number of registrations because the sign-up process is so easy.  I would expect that the user base for Twitter will grow by around 50% over the 12 months after launch.  However, number of people registered to the service was never really the issue for Twitter.  Their issue is…
  3. Usage – the average Twitter still doesn’t use it very often, a massive percentage not even hitting double figures.  The Apple deal should increase that  purely because it is so easy to tweet – only 2 clicks away. This is a huge step forward because Twitter’s monetary value is directly linked to usage.
  4. Business model – Twitter (and most social networks to be fair) have struggled with this one.  Their original vision did not incorporate how to monetise their ‘invention’ should it take off. Widening the user base will help Twitter in that they will have more eyes (and wallets) to attract.  They will also have more information through which to make their intelligence and targeting better.  But, from my experiences so far there is a critical piece missing…
  5. User Experience From what I have seen and experienced the Twitter integration is only outward.  To get updates from those you follow you still need to access a Twitter client. This makes the experience very egotistical because (via the integration) the communication is only one way – and that’s not what social networking is all about.  Perhaps they could integrate Twitter into their new Messages service (whereby you could select some/all of the people you follow and get their updates on the Messages).

The lack of notification of new messages feels like the piece that is missing to make this the real game changer that Twitter and Apple want it to be. Ultimately time will tell.  I think this is a great development for Twitter but there are still some kinks to iron out.

What do you think the deal will bring to Twitter (and Apple)?

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