SAN FRANCISCO About 500 Twitter developers gathered here at the Palace of Fine Arts to hear Twitter's co-founders and other company executives detail the company's progress and future plans at its first "Chirp" conference.
Earlier this week, Twitter announced an advertising program it's started to roll out that places relevant text ads atop search results and company execs here said they are committed to expanding the user base and creating more opportunities for developers.
For enterprises customers Twitter CEO Ev Williams said the company isn't planning to bring out new services directly, but is excited about what third party developers are doing to make it more useful to business customers. "We're excited by the potential, but the enterprise isn't a focus for us," Williams told InternetNews.com.
He added that making the service easier to use, particularly for mobile users, is a top priority at the company. "That's why we bought Tweetie," he said, noting the Twitter iPhone app the company recently purchased. During his keynote address, Williams also noted the recent integration of Twitter in BlackBerry devices by RIM has been "fantastic," attracting over 100,000 new sign-ups in the first three days of availability and responsible for about 8 percent of new Twitter sign-ups.
Twitter traditionally hasn't revealed much about its usage statistics, but at Chirp the company revealed it attracts 180 million unique visitors a month. The number of total visitors is actually much higher because 75 percent of Twitter's traffic comes from outside the site through client apps like Tweetdeck. Twitter has 105 million registered users and attracts about 300,000 new registered a day.
Twitter also announced there are now more than 100,000 registered Twitter applications. As recently as early last month, Twitter reported it had eclipsed 70,000 registered apps.
"The best thing we can do for you guys is to grow the user base to hundreds of millions of users," said Williams in explaining the decision earlier this year to offer Twitter's 'Firehose' of tweets to Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo. He said some of the company's board of directors objected and called such a move "crazy." But in fact, Twitter announced it plans to open up the Firehose further to developers of all sizes.
While extolling Twitter's technological progress in scaling the micro-blogging service (which now handles some three billion hits a day), Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said Twitter's success is really "a triumph of humanity." He pointed to Twitter's use during political unrest in Iran and showing the first pictures of the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson, among other events and said, "That's incredibly motivating."
Musician Will-I-Am of the group Black Eyed Peas took the stage to talk about the potential of Twitter. He thinks future bands will include coders and animators to create complete content experience. Noting that Twitter and other social networks have spurred enormous amounts of music sharing, he said, "Music's not dead, the people that housed it are dead."
As for Twitter, Will-I-Am had this to say:
"That idea of collective consciousness, to me that's what Twitter is. You can access all our thoughts and ideas -- you can surf people's thoughts. It's scary, but it's dope. "
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