Twitter to launch official Android app

Ronny Kerr · April 15, 2010 · Short URL:

A week after Tweetie for iPhone acquisition, microblogging startup has officially gone total mobile

Twitter AndroidTwitter announced on Wednesday that it would be launching its own official application for Google Android devices.

At the moment, there's no telling whether the company will build its own Android app from scratch or purchase an already-established Twitter client like Twidroid or Seesmic. If it follows precedent established just recently, the company will opt for the latter.

Twitter acquired Tweetie last Saturday and confirmed that the app would be renamed "Twitter for iPhone," making it the company's first official iPhone app.

CEO Evan Williams explained at the Chirp developer conference that the company's decision to purchase Tweetie was motivated by the need to make the mobile Twitter experience more ubiquitous. As of now, a user searching the App Store for Twitter will encounter tons of different apps--many of top-notch quality--listed under varying prices and offering varying core experiences. Tweetie, Twitterific, and Echofon are just three of the most well-known Twitter apps.

Once Twitter re-releases "Tweetie" as "Twitter for iPhone" and erases the $2.99 price tag, however, iPhone users will be far less confused about where to turn for their essential mobile Twitter needs. Unfortunately for some third-party developers, however, this means that it will be much harder to reach new users and retain previous users.

Last Friday, Twitter confirmed that it RIM's new BlackBerry app would be considered the device's official Twitter client. That's three confirmed official mobile Twitter clients in less than one week; it's apparent that mobile will mean a lot to this company going forward.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.