Going public gives Twitter a sustainable future, analysts say

The capital gained from an IPO could expand the Twitter ecosystem, some said

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Twitter has also been working hard to court outside developers. Last year the social network launched its "Cards" program, which lets developers and partners like newspapers attach certain media to their tweets like photo galleries and mobile app downloads. An expansion of that program was announced this past April.

An IPO may allow for more of these types of scale-ups that could make Twitter more like a Facebook or Apple, Gartner's Blau said. Third-party developers are a mainstay of Apple's App Store, and Facebook too. Facebook for instance recently acquired Parse, a company that provides a hosted back end for app developers.

There is the possibility that by going public and by wooing more outside marketers, Twitter could become too "corporate" or lose its hip factor. Facebook, which went public last year, has seen some similar criticism.

Twitter's uniqueness may override such concerns, Gartner's Blau said. The type of social networking the site provides -- "so far it hasn't been replicated," he said.

The bigger issue may be finding a way to get more people to understand how Twitter works. The site limits its users' posts to 140 characters. But to a person unfamiliar with the service, the site's content can be hard to understand, because many users resort to abbreviated URL links, "hashtags" denoted by the "#" sign, and sometimes abstruse idioms to get their point across.

Twitter recently tweaked its site and mobile apps to give users a way to share their Twitter conversations with others outside the site, in an effort to show laypeople how conversing on Twitter works.

Twitter was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone; its CEO is Dick Costolo.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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