Twitter already making money, CEO says
Twitter, the world's most popular micro-blogging site, is already making money and must become even simpler and more unified across platforms in the future, Chief Executive Dick Costolo told the audience at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.
Twitter is a service that allows registered users to send posts of up to 140 characters to their followers. It's available on desktops but also most mobile phones, including very basic ones, where it appears as text messages. About 60 percent of users tweet from desktops and the rest from mobile devices.
Costolo said in his keynote presentation at the world's largest telecoms event that he wants Twitter -- to look the same across devices so that consumers don't need to relearn how to use it if they switch from an Android phone to a BlackBerry, for instance.
"Users shouldn't have to think about how to use Twitter," he said.
In order for Twitter to become even more intuitive, Costolo called for deeper integration within software platforms in the latest smartphones. In practice that means users with some of the latest models can tweet a photo by hitting a single dedicated button rather than needing to exit the camera mode, launch the Twitter application and go through various other steps to share the image.
Once again Costolo didn't fully answer questions about the company's business model and its ability to monetize its fast-growing popularity.
"Every time I have an interview I am asked when we're going to make money. The short answer is we're already making money," he said.
He also hinted at greater financial rewards on the horizon.
"We believe that when you provide value to your users, that value will be returned to you multi-fold in ways you can't imagine," he said.
But, he provided no real details on plans to monetize Twitter.
"Twitter quoted figures on healthy growth and use, which is good but not surprising. What it didn't provide was concrete details on was how effective its nascent businesses are proving to be in driving revenues - lots of case studies of cool brands using Twitter but no hard line on the margins this brings to Twitter," Eden Zoller, analyst at telecoms consultancy Ovum, said in emailed comments after Costolo's speech.
There is almost constant speculation in the press that Twitter will eventually be taken over.
Meanwhile, Costolo on Monday pointed to several ways in which Twitter is already useful to companies that understand it, helping them run advertising campaigns or better serve their customers, as airline Virgin Atlantic did during a recent snowstorm in the U.S., re-issuing tickets to passengers who requested changes via Twitter even as phone lines were busy.
As for the growth, it is impressive. During the Super Bowl last week, Twitter registered around 4,000 tweets per second towards the end of the game, compared to 27 during the same event in 2008.
Twitter is changing the way we behave, Costolo said.
For instance, consumers are starting to watch television programs in real time again, instead of taping them, only to participate in the social experience of tweeting around the show. When a new episode of Glee, a U.S. series, starts, the number of related Tweets explodes.
Today Twitter gets around 130 million tweets a day compared to 100 million just a few months ago.
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