In a move to broaden its reach across the Internet, Twitter on Monday announced a new feature that lets users send and receive 140-character messages while surfing the web. Dubbed @anywhere, Twitter's latest service gives sites like Amazon.com, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC, The New York Times, Yahoo and YouTube the ability to stream the millions of daily tweets Twitter users send every day.
Evan Williams, CEO and cofounder of Twitter, announced the feature at a presentation at the South by Southwest interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Many observers reportedly expected Twitter to announce a new advertising platform, but instead were greeted with news about something that resembles Facebook Connect.
"This is Twitter's version of Facebook Connect. Not literally, but it's a comparable way to extend and distribute Twitter throughout the Internet and piggyback on the traffic of a range of sites," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "Twitter has become very popular, but it has a core base of active users. This could potentially dramatically expand and further popularize the service."
Twitter, Twitter Everywhere
In a blog post announcing @anywhere, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone explained how he and Williams designed Twitter with an approach that didn't require a relationship model like a social network.
"Keeping things open meant you could browse our site to read tweets from friends, celebrities, companies, media outlets, fictional characters, and more. You could follow any account and be followed by any account," Stone said. "As a result, companies started interacting with customers, celebrities connected with fans, governments became more transparent, and people started discovering and sharing information in a new, participatory manner."
Stone explained that Twitter has developed a new set of frameworks for adding the Twitter experience anywhere on the web. Soon, Stone promised, sites will be able to re-create open interactions typically found on Twitter.com for their own visitors.
Twitter has been edging into the broader web for months. The @anywhere revelation follows February's news that Twitter would begin content sharing with Yahoo, making real-time Twitter feeds available across all three major search engines. The new service extends that access deeper into web content, and could cause the membership to rise even more.
Twitter already has more than 600 million members sending 50 million tweets a day, according to the company. Users tweeted 5,000 times a day in 2007. By 2008, that number was 300,000, and by 2009 it had grown to 2.5 million per day. Tweets grew 1,400 percent last year to 35 million per day. In February, Kevin Weil of Twitterąs analytics team reported Twitter sees 50 million tweets per day -- an average of 600 tweets per second.
It looks like advertisers will have to wait a little longer for the anticipated Twitter ad platform that could help the micro-blogging service generate significant revenue.