Twitter is also adding new types of Card to make its service more data-rich. It all seems to be part of a move toward monetization.
Cards lets third party developers link rich media content directly into Twitter’s social network so that twitterers see Tweets embedded with much more than text: photos, videos, music and so on. It’s the mechanism that was controversially withdrawn by Instagram when Facebook purchased the social photo site and Twitter launched its own photo-effects system as a replacement: Twitterers thus automatically saw embedded Twitter photo Cards, but not Instagram pics.
Twitter’s new Card powers include what’s called “deep-linking”, which means when a twitterer sees a Card that links to a developer’s app they’ll be able to be taken to the app or given the option to download it.
Twitter has partnered with some big app developers, including Path and Angry Birds, to get the new system off the ground. The entire Cards system has also been improved so Twitter can more easily link new types of content in the future.
Ultimately this move looks like Twitter seizing more control of the future of its social network, and trying to tap into what we at Fast Company call the Discovery Economy: making money by helping users find new things. Upgrading Cards like this could eventually be a way for Twitter to make money by charging developers for access to user’s clicks.