It’s time for that rarest of events. The Cancer Blog Guy is going to say something thought-provoking about technology. Don’t worry, I’ll connect this to cancer somehow.
Of course, I’m talking about Apple’s 2011 World Wide Developers Conference currently underway in San Francisco. During Monday’s keynote address, Apple announced Twitter will be an integral part of iOS 5, the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system. As an avid tweeter and fan of all things Apple (Steve Jobs is my personal E.F. Hutton), I was very excited by this news.
Anyone who has used a smartphone knows, whether iPhone, Android, or Blackberry, there’s nothing more annoying than having to type your log in credentials over and over again. Giving people the option to log in just once through a main application setting, and being able to those credentials across the entire system will make things a whole lot easier. According to Apple, I will then be free to tweet with abandon. Photos. Favorite restaurants. News. Witty observations. It’s not that different from what I do now. Only it will be much cooler.
But then the little hamster in my head starts running on his little wheel and I start to think. Isn’t Twitter about engagement? That’s one of the arguments my blogging and podcast compatriots over at Today Made make in their The Complete How To Guide for Twitter Marketing series. You follow people on Twitter. They follow you back. And pretty soon you start having discussions about whether Diet Mt. Dew is a reasonable substitute for water on a hot day (answer = no). Or, if you’re Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), you get into hot water with the media, your constituents, and your wife.
The integration of Twitter into iOS strikes me as more of a one way street. You publish, people listen. Where’s the interaction? How do find out what your followers are doing? Find new people to follow? I’m pretty sure the answer is you’ll still need a third-party app do these things.
One article made a big deal out of Apple partnering with Twitter, rather than the decidedly more popular Facebook. Apple is, after all, the world’s largest tech company, and any service that partners with them gains immediate access to the 200 million iOS devices currently in use. Match that with Twitter’s estimated 200 million strong user base, and you have a powerful combination. Twitter will undoubtedly see usage increase as people try out these new, cool features on their iOS devices.
But will it last? Twitter’s retention rate, those users that stick with the service after a month, hovers around 30 to 40 percent. It will be interesting if that statistic holds true once the “Hey, I’m tweeting from my iPhone” novelty wears off.
I’m already using Twitter extensively, so I’m already in the “Yes, please!” camp. I haven’t tweeted any shirtless photos of myself (you’re welcome), but I have met some fantastic people on Twitter, especially cancer survivors who have served as a mini-support group for me. (I told you this would connect to back to cancer). Tweeting from a mobile device should be simple, and integrating Twitter into iOS is a step in the right direction.