Some pundits have questioned the reason for iOS 5 Twitters integration. It’s important to think back to Apples previous, recent, integrations into their operating systems and applications to understand why. For Photos those include: Flickr and Facebook for iPhoto, and now Twitter for iOS. Apple also had support in iPhoto for Mobile Me sharing but shortly that is suggested to be going away. They’ve added the most popular services (Facebook and Flicker) for people to share their photos but Twitter was still without a dedicated photo service.
A few weeks ago Twitter announced it would now support a dedicated Photo posting service and Apple is hooking into that service. What is Apple trying to achieve by helping people post photos? Simple enough: it’s part of your digital life as they say and it’s about convenience. Embedding Photo posting to Twitter into the operating system makes is very quick and easy to publish photos you want to share online. The real question is, why not Facebook? More about that later.
This Twitter integration goes beyond photos - it includes web links and videos and a few other things too, but Apple aren’t supplying their own Twitter client - given that they needed Twitters blessing for this integration it’s quite obvious that Twitter may it clear Apple were not allowed to make another client. That’s fine though as Apple want people to get used to using their products to post on services like Twitter to make their next step a no-brainer.
Apple are trying to get themselves into the social networking game. Between Ping (something that Facebook intelligently blocked) and then Game Centre Apple is trying to get on board with social. Twitter is still growing and with Facebook not playing Apples game, Apple integrating with Twitter is the next natural step. The next question is when Apple will launch an iCloud based social networking service for OSX and iOS that integrates SMS, MMS, iMessage, photo sharing and so on. How popular would that be if it’s free and has no ads?
There is no doubt that iOS 5 will attract a lot of new Twitter users so it’s a win for Twitter, but in addition those users will begin using Twitter exlusively from their mobile devices (most existing users avoid the web interface for Twitter like the plague anyway). It’s also a stepping stone for Apples future social plans and is fundamentally targetted at simplifying the process of posting social information on the web from your iOS device.
Twitter integration is for the basic, occasional existing users and more so for new users. Bringing them into the social fold by making it so easy gives Apple a more compelling product and a leg-up for the next step in their social strategy.