In the run up to its IPO, Twitter is exploring a few avenues for increased growth and added revenue. Tech observers believe one of Twitter’s latest efforts is launching its Direct Messaging feature as a standalone chat app.
Twitter is no stranger to messaging, both the public and private type. While the social network is mainly intended for exchanging public status updates, the platform’s Direct Messaging (DM) feature has become a mainstay functionality, even as it was once under threat of being removed altogether.
Twitter buried the DM feature under the profile tab in a recent redesign, although the feature might once again step out into the limelight if and when it is spun off as a separate, standalone product by Twitter’s developers. AllThingsD cites sources who say that Twitter is planning to “significantly update” its direct-messaging feature, and that recent updates to the system are pointing toward this possibility.
Twitter had been internally testing a setting that allows receiving DMs from any follower, whereas users previously needed to mutually follow each other before being able to exchange DMs. This new functionality is currently rolling out to users, and it is seen as a boon for businesses running offical accounts, as well as journalists who want to receive tips in private.
The bigger indication that Twitter might possibly launch DMs as a standalone app or platform is the performance of chat apps today. For instance, LINE has upwards of 230 million users, and is mulling a US$28 billion IPO. Kakao Talk also has about 200 million plus users, and is reportedly planning a US$ 5 billion IPO in Korea.
Cross-platform messaging services are seeing rapid growth and a rapid rise in revenues from in-app sales, which include stickers, game items and the like. In fact, Twitter is not the first social network to move into the messaging space. In 2012 Facebook launched its standalone Messenger app for iOS, Android and other platforms in order to capitalize on the social network’s increasingly mobile user base.
The question now is how Twitter plans to execute this move, and whether it can establish the service as a solid messaging platform. Will this feature add value to the company in light of its upcoming IPO?