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Email Killer? Twitter Has Secret Plans For More Direct Messaging

Rumors suggest Twitter has big ideas for its Direct Messages service, perhaps making it a potential rival to IM and email.

Email Killer? Twitter Has Secret Plans For More Direct Messaging

[Image: Flickr user Chi Hang Ong]

There's an interesting little piece of chatter bubbling away at AllThingsD: Twitter is far from done adjusting and boosting its Direct Messages private communications channel. It's actually got plans to "significantly update" the product in the near future, "bringing the long-buried feature to the forefront for the first time in years."

We're a little skeptical about that "long buried" part—because which serious Twitter user hasn't used that feature at least semi-regularly?—but the rest of this rumor, which comes from "multiple sources" sounds like the sort of brilliant move Twitter could easily make. This week Twitter allowed users to accept direct messages without having to follow the person who's sending the message. Essentially this allows many-to-one access for private conversations, and it's likely to be very useful for Twitter power users, charities, and so on. But the scheme is not going to be great for everyone, including Tweeps with huge follower numbers, because it could easily lead to a spamming of what is a private messaging channel. For this reason, Twitter's made it opt-in.

The move also made many folk wonder if Twitter had plans for a renewed private messaging system, and that's what the new rumor suggests. There is now talk of a standalone messaging app that may be separate from Twitter, perhaps in the same way the hugely popular video app Vine is. Twitter's slowly expanding reach and its status as a news-breaking and -sharing service as well as being a social network could easily be augmented with a new, smarter private communications system that rivals Instant Messaging and the increasingly inconvenient email channel. Beyond its IPO, this sort of facility may be able to quickly boost user numbers.