Ina Fried

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Twitter Looks to Rebuild its Mobile Experience, Hints at New Developer Opportunities

After spending much of the last year working to improve overall reliability, Twitter’s vice president of engineering says the company intends to put a lot of effort in the coming months into improving its mobile experience.

“Mobile is a huge priority for us,” Michael Abbott said, speaking at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit in Sausalito, Calif.

Although some of that work is around the mobile Web, much of it is around native apps for various smartphones and creating a more unified experience from device to device. Abbott said that the company sees a lot of promise for HTML5 down the road, but says native applications remain critically important. There are certain things that require an app, Abbot said, such as sending notifications or tying directly into a phone’s camera.

“We just can’t quite get there with HTML5 yet,” Abbott said, noting that he is a big proponent of HTML5, having focused on that in his prior work developing the WebOS at Palm.

Also, he said that mobile apps allow the company to reach more people as the App Store and Android Market remain important ways for people to discover Twitter.

In some ways, Abbott said, the focus on mobile is a return to the company’s roots, noting that it started out that way and that 40 percent of tweets originate from a mobile device.

As for criticisms that the company is just taking over territory once offered to third-party developers, Abbott said that Twitter is working on new ways that outsiders can work with Twitter. Abbott said the company plans to go public soon with “a clearer roadmap of how to build into Twitter versus off of Twitter.”

“There’s actually more things that we can do,” he said. Abbott declined to go into detail, but said that the company will have more to say soon and it is committed to offering not only opportunities to create apps, but also to make money.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald