The following post originally ran on 360i's Digital Connections blog, which just launched today. There will be some cross-posting; entries from here will periodically make their way there, and I may well post a few things there that don't make it here. There will also be others posting at 360i's blog. My weekly columns will run on both places.
There are rumors going around that Twitter’s going to acquire Summize, the leading Twitter search engine (leading in terms of functionality, if not usage). What’s this going to do for Twitter?
Historically, Twitter has allowed almost all of the most important features and functionality to be developed by others. Outside of its bare bones messaging platform, it has few features, and there’s no search functionality to speak of. Summize, meanwhile, has allowed people to keep track of Twitter conversations. If it’s brought in-house, it’ll be a huge asset for Twitter, especially if Twitter lets Summize continue to develop its pet projects such as those in Summize Labs.
Today’s Twitter users are generally fine with needing to go to different sources for Twitter features, including Summize for Search, Twhirl for a desktop application, TweetBeep for email alerts, and Twitterfox for a Firefox plug-in. But that’s not going to scale. Twitter needs to start providing some of the core features on its own. It should also use Firefox as a model, where Firefox offers the plug-in gallery that users can sort by downloads and ratings. Twitter can create its own gallery where it lists all the applications, sites, and services in one place, and users can rate their favorites. This will make it much easier for new Twitter users to easily access the most popular and useful Twitter tools, whether or not Twitter offers them.