What Is Twitter’s First Mobile Developer Conference About?

Any big announcements?

What Is Twitter’s First Mobile Developer Conference About?
[Photo: Flickr user Gulsen Ozcan]

Twitter announced yesterday that it will hold its first mobile developer conference; it’s called Flight. Taking place in San Francisco on October 22nd, the whole thing is still fairly mysterious. We don’t know too much yet, except the obvious, like a keynote by CEO Dick Costolo.


Twitter isn’t known for being particularly developer friendly. In fact, it’s been downright hostile in the past. Is this conference some kind of turning over of a new leaf? More likely, it’s a way to get developers onboard with Twitter’s vision for the future of its mobile platform.

And that future will be focused around two revenue-generating areas: Advertising and the new buy button.

Twitter’s Buy Button

Twitter will talk commerce at the conference. The company just announced its “buy” button which developers and companies will be able to integrate into tweets. The social network has been playing around with commerce for the last few years–though only in an unofficial nature until now.

Starbucks dabbled in sales on Twitter, allowing users to send $5 gift cards to people with the @tweetacoffee handle. No official numbers have ever been released, but Starbucks has said it’s happy with the engagement rate of the test program.

Chirpify was initially built around the idea of selling goods over Twitter, but has since added more disciplines, including converting passive viewers into active ones and measuring the social media return on investment.

In the blog post Twitter calls out Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday, and Stripe as initial partners, but says more will be announced. This would be the place to highlight other partners.


Twitter’s Advertising Platform

A major part of Flight is undoubtedly ads–maybe specifically mobile ads. Twitter bought MoPub back in 2013, but has been fairly quiet about the company or mobile advertising since that acquisition. This is from the announcement almost exactly one year ago:

We also plan to use MoPub’s technology to build real-time bidding into the Twitter ads platform so our advertisers can more easily automate and scale their buys. We’ll maintain the same high quality standards that define our platform today. Our approach is to show an ad when we think it will be useful or interesting to a user, and that isn’t changing.

If MoPub is the future of Twitter’s mobile advertising, it seems a developer’s conference focused on mobile would include an update on MoPub’s real-time bidding platform.

In May of this year, Crashlytics–acquired by Twitter in 2013–released it’s beta toolset for iOS and Android. The team also released Answers in July. A blog post announcing Answers hints at why this is a big deal for Twitter and its third-party developers.

Answers by Crashlytics features what we call an “opinionated” user experience. Instead of forcing developers to pore over a pile of data, it presents focused dashboards that answer the most important questions. We’ve been secretly using Answers at scale over the past few months in both Twitter for iOS and Android, and it’s been an invaluable resource for our product managers and engineers.

Let us know in the comments what you hope to see announced, if anything, at the one-day conference.


About the author

Tyler Hayes is a Southern California native, early technology adopter, and music enthusiast.