Late last night here (4PM PST) Twitter held a press conference to make some announcements about their service.

They unveiled the new version of the user home page, which will be split into two panes – one for the timeline (which will now scroll automatically) and one to give extra contextual information on any selected tweet. A message about a video, for example, will be presented alongside the video itself.

While this isn’t game changing, it demonstrates that they’re keen to feed people a richer aspect on the information (going from ‘tell’ to ‘tell and show’), and to retain people on their site – most probably as a step towards monetisation by contextual advertising.

They claimed that currently, 70% of users access the service via their website – which surprised me given the prevalence and quality of handheld clients and power of their API. I’d expect Twitter to update their official client apps soon to mirror the functionality.

Staged roll-out of the new version of the service (#newtwitter) is happening already and will continue over the next couple of weeks. A preview in the promo video below:

They were also keen to emphasise that users did not have to post their own content to take part in Twitter- perhaps as a strike at convincing advertisers that engaged users are far more numerous than active posters, or perhaps they’re looking to directly increase their appeal to content creators and distributors.

Not mentioned in press conference, but likely relevant: They’ll be rolling out their own link shortening service over the coming months. This will give them a deeper hold on the peripheral information and the way people are using it (click-throughs, propagation, etc).

References:

Twitter’s overview page.

Another take on Twitter’s strategy from Usrlab.