Twitter iPology

Quick barred.
Twitter launched its new applications for the iPad and iPhone on Thursday afternoon. The announcement touted new features including easier photo uploading, link shortening, and friend finding. And one more thing: the Quick Bar. Then the backlash began.

In the new versions of the apps, the Quick Bar lets you see Trending Topics displayed in a bar at the top of the screen. The constant stream of topics was ostensibly designed to keep people informed about what was going on in the world right now. But instead, it seemed to—
at best—distract, and—at worst—annoy.

Twitter’s Communications Team responded to reporters who were echoing user criticisms of the new changes, but they did so from their own accounts, not the Twitter Comms handle. But what I think is most interesting about this is the fact that Twitter used its own service to improve itself.

Twitter Creative Director Doug Bowman sent out a message that illustrates this best. He acknowledged the feedback he was seeing, and let everyone know publicly that Twitter was talking their opinions into consideration while designing improvements.

Twitter for iPhone users, hang in there. We're listening. than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

In the fall of 2010, the iPhone made up only 8% of Twitters usage. Now, Twitter for iPhone ranks third in the list of how we access Tweets. But the public discourse that erupted about the new applications wasn’t limited to just iPhone and iPad owners; it made it into everyone’s streams of updates, no matter how they were logged on.

By late Friday, Twitter had submitted a new version of the applications to the iTunes store. As we wait for Apple’s approval process, let’s remember that this rapid response is an excellent example of the type of customer service available through Twitter. In a very public forum, Twitter is able to transform an imperfect product into a product perfected.

I’m anxious to see what they come up with as a solution, since this will presumably be the framework upon which they build some sort of advetising model. But that still seems a little bit farther off. Maybe we can discover it together when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox