At today’s Chirp event in San Francisco, Twitter’s prevailing message was growing revenues and resources applied to running a tighter ship. This includes communication and support for the legions of third-party developers building Twitter products.
As it’s been a hot topic with Twitter — and throughout the tech world lately — location and mobile came up many times. First and foremost is the announcement that local listings will be appended to the geolotagged tweets that it previously announced. From our 8/21 writeup:
Other interesting points about geolocation have more to do with whatTwitter, or third parties, decide to do with it. Here’s where some of Andrew Shotland’s prescient points from yesterday come into play.
If you know a user is tweeting from a particular lat/long, why not overlay business listings data to be able to determine that they’re tweeting from “Joe’s Bowling Alley”? Once you know that, the floodgates open for related content (Yelp reviews) or ads (“Pete’s Bowling Alley”).
Back to the user perspective, geolocation also adds an additional dimension of relevance to Twitter search. In other words, filtering tweets not only by keyword but by location. This makes the most sense in mobile, if you are wandering through a new neighborhood and want to find out about all the deals happening around you.
Those deals/tweets would be coming from the businesses, mentioned above, that are tweeting from their locations. This assumes for the sake of argument, that businesses will do this with great enough coverage and frequency to make it a worthwhile user experience. That could take a while to materialize but you get the idea.
According to Twitter’s director of Platform Ryan Sarver (previous interview here), the drivers for this move were to increase relevance for users. Lat/Long readings only have so much context, so a “place” feature will give users more color on where tweets are coming from.
Interestingly, this brings Twitter closer to Foursquare’s sweet spot. In other words, the relevance of a user’s social communication is defined by the place where he or she is standing. Could users decide to just tweet from a location … arguably more context rich than a binary “check-in” on Foursquare?
Meanwhile Twitter’s 100 million registered users far outweigh Foursquare’s 600,000, so its ability to scale is a daunting prospect for some. In this way, Twitter joins Facebook as the looming category killer in the mobile/social/location space.
To ease longstanding listings data issues (duplication, updates, etc.), Twitter will curate a centralized database of local places. That way, all third parties pulling from and contributing to the data set will have a common language. Easier said than done, but probably the right way to go about it.