Twitter is branching out beyond tweets: The company is launching a software development kit today, called Fabric. With Fabric, Twitter intends to take over your phone.
Fabric offers a simple toolkit for developers to create their own apps. It's a nice new option for developers... and if they use it, the results could be huge for Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter wants to be a mobile ad powerhouse on third party apps as well as its own. If developers use Twitter's ad platform, MoPub, Twitter will make money off those ads. And that's not all. If developers use Twitter as a sign-in tool, the Twitter authentication box will gain reach (just like the Facebook log-in did). Having Twitter will be the key to easy access to a whole suite of apps, which is bad news for you if you loathe the world of 140-character microblogs.
And if developers build Twitter embeds into their ads, Twitter will have a far greater reach than it could ever achieve with one product.
The little blue bird wants to infiltrate a whole flock of new third-party apps with Fabric.
To sweeten the deal for developers, Twitter developed a program called Digits that will let developers sign people up for apps using their phone numbers instead of email addresses. This is key for making a dent in new markets, since there are some places where people do not have email addresses. Twitter is also offering crash support through a kit called Crashlytics.
This is a big jump for Twitter as a company. Wired's Mat Honan explains:
One source familiar with Twitter's strategy compares the move to Google branching out from search into YouTube and Android and Chrome. "You could ask what does Gmail have to do with search? How does it help search? And the answer is it doesn't. Gmail adds value to Google, though, because it makes Google more central to people's lives."
In a way, Twitter is behaving similar to a former rival, App.net. App.net positioned itself as a more developer-friendly version of Twitter. It never caught on, but then again, it never reached the critical mass that its competition did. If Fabric gets a warm reception, this expansion plan could work.
Now, what does that mean for you? If you're not Dick Costolo (what up dude) or a Twitter employee, it doesn't matter if Twitter fattens its pockets with coffers from developers. And to be clear, this won't affect the main Twitter product directly; there's no site redesign or snazzy new feature.
It could and should, of course, encourage third-party developers to come up with complementary apps (and maybe complementary apps that Twitter eventually takes cues from when it adds new features). So this could mean you'll be seeing a lot more apps that integrate Twitter. It also means you might see more apps that let you sign in using your Twitter credentials.
It means your phone might be dominated by Twitter-affiliated apps instead of Facebook ones. [Wired]