Instant-messaging apps have been integrated in our daily routine. They offer the possibility of having real-time conversations through our smartphone, the possibility of sending free SMS easily or even watching each other thanks to VoIP tools. Nevertheless, we still remember how MSN changed our life when they gave us the option of being in touch with our friends through our computer, but nowadays it seems totally obsolete. As it is said, renew or die. And that’s what big companies such as BlackBerry or Twitter has thought and that’s why they are fighting for its own place in this direct-messaging world.
Twitter proposal: the New WhatsApp-like real-time communication
Twitter is a well-known social network which is mainly characterized for giving the possibility of sending small commentaries, news or opinions with a limitation of 140 characters (the so-called “tweet”). This access is restricted to people who has a Twitter account, but who receive these tweets? Your tweets will be read by people who share your point of view in some subjects or by those who just think that you write interesting things; both will decide to follow you, and will become your ‘followers’. You can even create virtual communities, share your interests with a specific hastag (HT) and retweet the tweets you want to have in your personal timeline. If you want to be in vogue, you can write hastags which are Trending Topic (TT) and your social influence will increase drastically.
This app has also the option of sending private messages (DM), but it is quite far from being an instant-messaging application. Then, the company is trying to change its image thinking about updating itself for becoming a personal-messaging app such as the cross-platform apps LINE, Viber and KakaoTalk (which also offer you the possibility of making free calls), MessageMe, BeejiveIM, Nimbuzz or the well-known WhatsApp. These applications are the reference for many new products due to the considerable increase of their popularity in just two years. In fact, other cross-platform social networks such as Path (destined to share photos and send messages, and launched in November 2010), Instagram or Facebook (the social network par excellence) have updated its messaging functions to be in our smartphones.
One of the main changes and differences between the current Twitter app and the future one will be direct messages (DM). Now, you are able to send messages just to the people who follow you. For weeks, this company has been testing the possibility of allowing users to communicate with the rest of users, without having to be mutually followed one another. The main problem with that option -according to our opinion- could be that this social network was initially designed to follow celebrities who expressed their feelings. If everyone has the option of sending DM to everyone that has a Twitter account, many quite-followed people could give up using it. Nevertheless, the new DM tool included in the Twitter proposal could go further than what we expected. According to several rumors and people who work in Twitter’s company, they are thinking about creating a separate, standalone and different application exclusively destined to the direct-messaging service. The intention is just to keep the users that are familiar with this social network in a possible new real-time messaging app.
Three options: Be Snapchat, Be Public or Be in the Stock Exchange
Currently we can find several applications which offer similar functions (share images, videos, voice files or just send free SMS), but this time, Twitter has not focused on the biggest giants like LINE or WhatsApp. It has focused mainly on Snapchat. This application lets you share exclusively images and videos with your friends. Apart from having the possibility of customizing them, adding text or painting something on them, the main peculiarity of Snapchat is that you can establish how many seconds the other person can see them. After that time, neither your friends nor you will be able to see them again, unless you are the one who took the photo and decided to save it. The requirement for seeing these images or videos is, apart from having your friend added in your contacts list, to keep touching your mobile’s screen the whole time. If you stop doing it, the image will disappear from your screen. Twitter proposal has paid attention to this application mainly for its rapid ascent, and it has incorporated one of its features in Twitter’s update for Android tablets: the in-message illustration features.
The other possibility this company is considering is to open its social network to everyone. Nowadays, social networks in general like to be private because they can control who are inside and who has an account; if you make a content being private, people tend to log in to see what’s inside. However, if you want to change your social network into an instant-messaging app for your smartphone, you could make it public. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, is the main proponent of the all-public option.
Finally, there is other solution for saving Twitter from being a mainstream program: the stock exchange. Considering that it’s a very risky option, Twitter has been prepared to float on November 7 on the New York Stock Exchange. This option reminds us when Facebook decided to do the same some months ago. It started with a valuation of 100 billions of dollars and its shares were depreciated a 30% during the first year, although nowadays is getting a better position.
BlackBerry Messenger: The unexpected case of resurgence
Who would think that BBM, the social network which was exclusively owned by BlackBerry devices, will be so demanded currently? Nobody, of course. But it happened, and it has become one of the most important instant-messaging apps in just a few weeks. This application was created firstly for BlackBerry devices and forbidden for the rest (do you remember what we said about private use?). After being in a taken-too-long recession, the company has redesigned its product, turning it into a cross-platform app and offering it to everyone who has Android or iOS devices. But the main feature to highlight is that, during its first 24 hours of ‘public’ life, 10 million of users wanted to download it and 10 million more during the following six days. Then, in just one week, more than 20 million people with Android and iPhone devices have downloaded it and, adding to this amount the people who already had it, BBM has currently more than 80 million of active users. It’s true that this application is quite far from the 350 million of active users that WhatsApp has, but it’s still a great and unexpected ascent.
So, what offers this application different from others? As any instant-messaging application, you can send real-time free SMS, photos, emoticons, videos and voice notes. But, with BBM for Android and BBM for iOS you can also share your screen (as Skype does in your PC) or even the view from your camera.
Conclusion: unpredictable Twitter proposal’s future
It’s true that the social network is still increasing its community, being in vogue and a reference for many news agencies, newspapers and even TV programs. But it could fall in the ‘mainstream area’ in which well-known standalone applications have been. Its proposal of being an instant-messaging app could be quite interesting although they have to fix several problems before launching it. Nevertheless, as BBM success was unexpected, we cannot assure anything, and just wait impatient its launch.