Yesterday Twitter unveiled Fabric, a semi-integrated suite of tools for mobile app developers. The company somewhat grandiosely refers to it as a “modular mobile platform,” but while it’s definitely modular and certainly focused on mobile, it’s not a platform in any commonly understood sense of the term.
Unless, of course, Twitter was referring to its own platform.
While Fabric offers some significant goodies to developers, the real reason Twitter is launching this suite is first of all to boost its own core platform reach, and secondly to make more money via its mobile advertising subsidiary, MoPub.
Because make no mistake, when it comes to the incredibly lucrative mobile app user acquisition market that Facebook dominates — with a few key exceptions — Twitter has almost completely failed on the promises it made when unveiling mobile app promotion capabilities in Twitter Cards. And that’s no doubt had serious implications for Twitter’s revenue which, while showing growth and pockets of strength, caused the company’s shares to dip recently.
The goodies that Twitter is offering
- Crash analytics (available from multiple other vendors)
- A “Twitter kit”
- native tweet embedding (good for Twitter)
- native tweet composing (also good for Twitter)
- Twitter sign-in (good for Twitter; social sign-in is widely available from the usual suspects)
- MoPub mobile advertising engine (good for Twitter; there are many, many monetization options for mobile publishers)
- Digits, an identity system based on phone numbers (good for Twitter, as it’s built on Twitter infrastructure and therefore associates potentially hundreds of millions of people with Twitter; not easily available elsewhere)
This peace offering to developers, who Twitter has alienated in the recent past, was so necessary because Twitter is failing so badly.
1) Facebook kills Twitter in mobile monetization.
This chart show which social solutions mobile developers think are most effective at helping them monetize their apps. That big blue chunk is Facebook, and the so-much-smaller brown slice is Twitter.
But it gets worse …
2) Big developers avoid Twitter.
When you look at the kinds of developers and publishers who use Facebook to help monetize their mobile apps, there’s a wide range from small to mid-range to very, very high-volume. The kinds of developers who use Twitter/MoPub, in contrast, are almost all small developers, with fewer large publishers than YouTube — at half the volume.
3) Big developers don’t acquire users via Twitter.
When you segment mobile publishers by size and then identify their preferred user acquisition companies, it not only becomes clear that Facebook, Google, AdColony, YouTube, and NativeX have more volume than Twitter, but also that the bigger and more successful a publisher you are, the less likely you are to use Twitter.
4) Twitter doesn’t monetize well.
When mobile developers force-ranked the top monetization companies for their mobile apps in our Mobile User Acquisition study, Twitter doesn’t come out well. Google is the king — although, not without warts — followed by Chartboost, AdColony, Flurry, Upsight (Playhaven/Kontagent), NativeX, Tapjoy, Vungle, Apple’s iAd, “Other,” and SponsorPay.
In other words, kind of an also-ran.
5) Four percent of mobile developers think Twitter is best.
Just 4 percent of the mobile developers we surveyed said that MoPub was the best partner in monetizing their mobile apps. Many more said Google or Chartboost or AdColony, plus a litany of other mobile user acquisition and monetization companies.
The goodies, however, are very good.
While Twitter’s new offerings are certainly centered on promoting Twitter’s platform, Twitter’s reach, and Twitter’s monetization capabilities, they do include some very neat goodies for mobile developers and publishers.
Crash analytics is a good thing to have. Native Twitter functionality can be a good thing for certain kinds of apps. And another monetization possibility is not a bad thing, and could work very well for certain kinds of apps.
But the big kahuna here is Digits, which will simultaneously allow almost frictionless accounts to users, and the ability to know formerly anonymous apps users — and then be able to engage and monetize them more effectively — for developers. Both are valuable, and both are a reason for developers to at least consider the new offerings.
Time will tell if they also improve Twitter’s standing in the mobile user acquisition and mobile monetization hierarchy.