It's the golden hour for Twitter and its little blue bird .
Thirteen percent of actual grownup Net users have used Twitter, according to new data  from Pew Research--up from just 8% in November 2010. More than 60% more people have engaged with the microblog in just six months, in other words. Those Tweeps who own cell phones also love to use Twitter on the move--54% of these people have used Twitter via phone (by SMS or smartphone app).
Any service experiencing a 60% adoption rate growth in just half a year is one to watch, but Twitter's been a hot topic for several years already. So something, somewhere in the rich ecosystem of Twitter apps  and its integration into more and more web systems has recently begun to change. The usage stats are still skewed slightly male with 14% of male netizens as users, versus 11% of online women, and black and Hispanic users standing out as keen Twitterers compared to white users (the survey concerned online American citizens, so it's worth pointing out that over 70%  of global Twitterers are outside the U.S.).
But the biggest change is in the demographic for Twitter users: In November 2010 just 9% of online U.S. adults aged 25 to 34 had used Twitter, and 8% of 35 to 44 year-olds. These stats are now 19% and 14% respectively, meaning nearly one in five 25- to 34-year-olds have used Twitter. This is a significant change, and is possibly driven by Twitter's increasing value as a real-time news and information source.
Perfect timing then for the latest hot rumor about Twitter and Apple. We know Twitter's not for sale, and we know it has clever plans to monetize its system and to claw back control of its third-party app ecosystem, so it's a more controlled, centralized service. But this also could be part of Apple's plans to integrate Twitter  sharing into iOS--perhaps sharing photos in the same way as it's currently possible to share video clips on YouTube directly from Apple's official imaging apps. That would be a potent move for Apple, attaching it to a fast-growing new social media system, and it could easily lead to even more rapid growth for Twitter itself.
DaringFireball's John Gruber (who's sometimes been close to the mark concerning Apple rumors) has hinted  a much deeper system-wide integration could be on the cards for iOS5. This would radically change how interactive iOS is from a user point of view, and would deeply entwine Twitter into the genre-defining iPhone and iPad. Is this about as close as Twitter and Apple could get without the latter spending billions to buy the former? We'll find out on Monday .
[Image: Flickr user John-Morgan ]