Twitter has launched a new mobile development kit, Fabric, which will allow developers to create cross-platform apps for iOS and Android, while combining tools to address the main challenges faced by developers: stability, distribution, revenue and identity.
Launching the tool, Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo said: “As builders of mobile apps the more you can focus on building delightful user experiences the less you have to focus on dealing with unreadable crash reports, the easier. The less you have to sort out and cobble together your beta testers, the better. The quicker you can incorporate a new ad network, the better. The less you have to worry about messaging infrastructure, the better."
The Drum caught up with big names in the mobile industry - such as M&C Saatchi Mobile and the IAB - to see exactly what this development will mean for them.
Libby Robinson, UK managing drector, M&C Saatchi Mobile
Twitter Fabric presents a very interesting departure for Twitter as a company. Its aim is to extend Twitter’s reach across mobile, so in effect, Twitter is betting on the continued growth of app usage, instead of the mobile web.
By helping developers, Twitter is helping itself - by integrating MoPub into more apps, Twitter can deliver more adverts, as well as broaden the appeal of Twitter’s main product.
We see this as an attempt by Twitter to become a mobile platform, rather than just being seen as a social network, much similar to the way Google diversified away from search to YouTube, Chrome, and Android.
We expect that this will help cement the dominance of app usage on mobile, as MoPub integration will help developers reach scale with audiences, making it easier for apps to generate advertising revenue. Essentially it means Twitter could become the ‘Google’ of mobile, maybe a long shot, but we're certainly watching this space closely.
Dan Beasley, head of mobile and partner, Jam
I remember when Twitter purchased Crashlytics back in 2013. It made no sense at all to me then – what was Twitter doing buying a tool that developers used globally to track bugs? Now it makes more sense. Add MoPub and Digits to the equation and there are the makings of something quite powerful. Digits is particularly interesting in developing markets where the desktop/email revolution passed by almost unnoticed, far easier to authenticate against a mobile number.
What's interesting is that a number of the tools they have made available, as part of Fabric have no direct benefit to Twitter but what they are doing is opening their arms and helping to develop relationships with developers globally in the hope that long-term there will be some benefits for Twitter.
The most popular of all in the short-term will be Twitter Kit. Finally the ability to quickly embed a mini version of Twitter inside your app with all of the functionality you expect from the native client.
What’s for certain is that it’s an ambitious plan for Twitter to dominate across all of your apps!
Alex Kozloff, head of mobile, IAB
The launch of Twitter’s new mobile development kit, Fabric, is an interesting development for both Twitter and the mobile ecosystem in general.
Of particular interest is the inclusion of Twitter’s mobile advertising platform, Mopub, in suite of tools offered to app developers by Fabric, as it is further proof of the importance of mobile advertising to the app developer community.
Our recent IAB/PWC Digital Adspend study showed that £316m was spent on mobile display advertising in the UK in H1 2014 alone, which was up 68 per cent from H1 2013.
Hopefully, the launch of Fabric will encourage continued progress in the app development industry, in turn growing mobile advertising innovation and investment in the UK.
Neil Bruce, head of mobile, Mindshare UK
With Fabric, Twitter has essentially performed a u-turn in their attitude towards developers. Prior to the Flight conference, Twitter had only held one developer event and had even imposed strict guidelines on how developers could use their tech in late 2012.
That was when things were rosy for Twitter. They were experiencing massive growth and preparing for IPO. Things are different now. Despite its share price rallying over the last few months, it’s still almost half of last December’s $74 high. Google and Facebook have diversified beyond their core product offerings. Twitter has taken note.
Fabric is an attractive suite of tools that will allow developers to monetise their apps, sign up users easily, deliver content and analyse crashes. It’s comprehensive, free and sits on top of existing iOS and Android developing environments, and while I don’t profess to be a developer, I can see it helping to rebuild Twitter’s relationship with developers.
For me, the big news is the potential marketing applications. Uptake will allow Twitter to quietly increase its presence across iOS and Android devices and deliver advertising via MoPub. Twitter’s Kevin Weil has stated that Fabric will deliver “an evolution of the company to something that is much broader than just Twitter the consumer app”.
While I remain unconvinced that Fabric will fundamentally change the mobile ecosystem, it will likely provide a vital opportunity for Twitter to unlock additional revenue streams.
Rafe Blandford, mobile strategist, DigitasLBi
Twitter Fabric is huge news for them and for the mobile industry as a whole if they get their way. Twitter wants to have its tools living inside every mobile app and connected device.
The near-term direct pay off for Twitter will be developers integrating its MoPub advertising product, but the value that can be extracted from being a fundamental part of the ecosystem going forward is the longer-term play. Fabric is the foundation for Twitter to transform from a business based on tweets into a diversified, cross-ecosystem, service provider.
It's analogous to the way Google extended out of search, Amazon to AWS and it speaks volumes about the Twitter leadership's scale of ambition.
Jody Shilliday, head of social and programmatic, Fetch
This is the first proper development to allow Twitter users the same flexibility and portability of their ‘digital persona’ that Facebook Connect currently offers, and definitely spells the end of the ‘walled garden’ of apps.
I think the genius move from Twitter is introducing the phone number login option – it is a simple and slick solution to a common usability challenge, so I think adoption rates will be extremely high, as it seems less ‘intrusive’ than a social login option - however, then this gives Twitter a really tidy way to match-up multiple offline user data sets from 3rd parties, with incredibly detailed digital and physical user data clusters from all of the apps that will use it. I think this will make a bigger impact to their business than the MoPub integration will, though they will tie-in nicely together, and I can see it taking all the main players in a very interesting and possibly controversial direction of marketing with anonymised user-data.
From a basic app marketing perspective this will make a big difference in user-journeys and really enhance Twitter’s offerings – we’ve seen Twitter drive installs at equal or better CPIs than other social partners, but sign-ups often tank afterwards – often ‘sign-in with Facebook’ is the only one-click option, so this will give an easy alternative.
Stu Crowder, social activation manager, Adjust Your Set
This is an exciting development in the progress of social and mobile app building. This could be on the back of the huge leap that Twitter made with Amazon earlier this year to integrate the Amazon basket into the Twitter experience, and the excitement from the industry with this revolutionary drive to purchase.
With the need to constantly evolve social networks to be inclusive in what we do in our daily lives, the ability to now develop apps which allow developers to be creative with implementing Twitter into their tech builds is inspiring.
This is a direct departure from the barriers set on third party builds which were usually short-lived due to the controls set in place. It’s a smart decision to push Twitter and microblogging into new app advances, and I'm excited to see developers get creative with their integration of Twitter.
Itay Gadot, vice president of sales and marketing, dmg
The launch of Fabric is good news not just for Twitter and the developer community, but also for marketers. Fabric brings Twitter into direct competition with Facebook, Google and Amazon in terms of offering tools for developers to build their apps.
From my point of view, the ad service for mobile MoPub combined with Twitterkit, which will allow apps to integrate with Twitter's real-time information, is very interesting.
Mobile advertising is crying out for more innovation and with 78 per cent of Twitter's users accessing it from mobile, compared to 30 per cent of Facebook users, it will be an excellent proving ground for developing ad tech.
For consumers, Fabric should mean the quality of the ads they get served is much higher. Facebook has already made a big play to up the quality and targeting of ads with the relaunch of Atlas. However, again the jury is out on just how good the platform is and its long term development