Twitter CEO: We need to be everywhere — like indoor plumbing

Twitter, according to CEO Dick Costolo, needs to be like indoor plumbing: simple, instantly useful and always present. Twitter users should not have to relearn an interface when they switch between devices. To this end, the company is pursuing deep integrations with various mobile OEMs and carriers

Costolo just finished a keynote speech at the mobile industry’s big event of the year — the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. His speech was short on announcements and long on Twitter’s philosophy and impact, although he did announce a new crowd-sourced translation center for Twitter. The first languages to be translated will be Turkish, Russian, Indonesian and Portuguese.

Would you follow a user who does not tweet in a language you understand? I’m not sure.

Costolo announced that 40 percent of tweets come from mobile devices, a statistic that seemed to surprise commentators, who expected the figure to be higher. He also said 40 percent of Twitter users employ Twitter on more than one platform.

Twitter tends to be very polarizing. A very high proportion of users send a few tweets and then retire while others are extremely active. Costolo told the crowd that when new users create even a few social connections, where they are followed by people they are following, they are much more likely to become active users.

He said Twitter is making people want to watch TV simultaneously again in order to benefit from the social context provided by Twitter. During broadcasts of the TV show Glee, for example, tweets about the show jump 30 times in volume.

Despite Costolo’s insistence that Twitter is now a global phenomenon, he made a few embarrassing cultural gaffs, calling the wildly popular UK TV show The X Factor (something like American Idol) “a game show”. He also mentioned Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seed installation at the Tate Modern in London as the artist’s interpretation of Twitter. Visitors were famously prevented from walking on the seeds when it was discovered that the dust kicked up might be harmful to health. Hopefully that’s not an omen for the future of Twitter itself.


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