updated 02:15 pm EDT, Wed April 14, 2010
Twitter to use POIs for location data
Twitter at its inaugural Chirp conference today said it would add points of interest to its geolocation features. Location-aware computers and handhelds will now recognize when they're at a notable location and identify any tweets as coming from that place. The feature could potentially be used to follow all updates from a particular location, such as a convention center or a concert.
Company chief Evan Williams didn't say when the feature would go live, but he stressed that there wouldn't be a check-in feature like with Foursquare or Gowalla and that the feature would help those map-based games and services.
As part of the discussion, however, Williams did explain the company's turn towards official Twitter apps, including both the official BlackBerry app and the recent buyout of Atebits to make Tweetie the official iPhone client. The executive noted that the "core experience" of Twitter wasn't making it to mobile and that many people have trouble getting started on phones. As an example, a woman searching for Twitter on the App Store was both overwhelmed by the number of apps as well as uncertain about which would do what she needs. Even with self-evident apps like Twitterrific, it wasn't clear which would handle needs.
Price is also a concern, Williams said. Many apps are free, but Tweetie 2, Twitterrific Premium and others often cost $3 or more.
The company doesn't have any known plans to shut down competing apps but does face pressure to reinforce its position in mobile. Only 25 percent of updates actually come from the Twitter website, while the rest usually stem from dedicated clients either on the desktop or on phones.