Twitter DM: A Missed Opportunity

Chat applications have become one of the biggest technology battle grounds. Features such as AI, stickers, bots, and security are taking a forefront on the feature war going on between the numerous companies on your phone.

Platform: Twitter has had Direct Messaging (DM) for years. It has always been treated as a secondary (or forgotten) function of Twitter. A private way to communicate with a user out of the ever public eye of the Twitter feed. It was a good idea and added another layer to Twitter. But the feature has grown very stale, and greatly over shadowed by other applications out there.

Twitter has the built in user base. Many chat applications struggle because it take a lot of users to make a chat application really useful. All the features in the world don’t help if none of your friends are there to talk to. Twitter already has the users willing the use the service, and use DM even without the innovation. Twitter has a huge install base and it’s applications work across every platform. They have already solved the scale problem that many chat applications suffer from.

Bots: Twitter bots have been around for as long as Twitter has been. This feature was never implemented into DMs. Facebook Messenger and the like are now proudly showing that their chat applications offer bots to communicate with. Twitter is now behind the times.

Security: Signal has been hugely popular because of it’s security. There are many other chat applications that have come to popularity based on their security as well. The creator of Signal, worked for Twitter. Yet his technology was never implemented. Twitter DM could have become a secure way to communicate. Instead the creator left, started his own company, and the technology is now being used by other chat applications. Including Facebook owned, WhatsApp.

It seems Twitter has many of the hurdles of a great chat applications already figured out or ready to implement, but never did. Twitter Direct Messaging still feels like an unfinished or forgotten feature within Twitter. I hope this changes in the future, but I’m not expecting it.

Links of Interest:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/how-to-encrypt-your-twitter-dms

http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/19/5523656/twitter-gives-up-on-encrypting-direct-messages-at-least-for-now

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moxie_Marlinspike

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/07/10/what-moxie-marlinspike-did-at-twitter/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2011/11/28/twitter-acquires-moxie-marlinspikes-encryption-startup-whisper-systems/

http://www.phdays.com/press/news/59364/

Microsoft Should Acquire Twitter

Not a fully formed argument, but something that has got me thinking since the Microsoft Surface event.

1. Communication Platform – Microsoft has multiple communication platforms. Their platforms have always been a bit of a mess. Messenger, Lync, Skype, Skype for Business, Rooms (remember that?), Yammer. They’ve never had a very uniform system. They should take the consumer facing side of Skype and integrate the technology into Twitter Direct Message platform. Bring voice calls, video calls, and chat bots to the Twitter DM. Make Twitter a private communication platform that can compete with Facebook Messenger and separate the confuting Skype and Skype for Business. Let Skype become the enterprise option and Twitter be the consumer option.

2. Content – Microsoft already has a device in most households for entertainment, the Xbox. Twitter is trying to get live content that will be displayed in the living room (i.e. Thursday Night Football). Microsoft will be able to take these and similar content deals and bring them to a much bigger audience that is already setup to view the content. Twitter technology with the distribution of Windows seems like a good combination to complete with what Google, Apple, and cable companies already have out there.

3. Consumer Facing – Microsoft has been making a big push into the enterprise market. Office 365, LinkedIn, Yammer, and Office are all geared towards business users. Yet Windows 10 is being pushed as a friendly consumer operating system. Twitter can bring a consumer facing platform that will integrate with Windows 10. Microsoft has made a few entrances into social media that failed, Twitter will give them an actual foothold in social media.