Twitter Expands Reach Beyond Internet

Twitter's iconic bird logo.
Twitter is expanding their reach to those without Internet access with a new deal with Singapore’s U2opia.

Social media giant Twitter, has announced their plans to expand their international market beyond their current users to reach those without Internet access. Singapore-based U2opia will partner with Twitter to bring some of Twitter’s features to people in remote locations without Internet access and those with lower-grade cell phones that are not capable of accessing the Internet.

The Twitter announcement of their new service comes after one of the other big social media giants, Facebook Inc., made a similar deal with U2opia. The Singapore company said that more than half a million users without Internet Access from around the world now access Facebook every month. U2topia says that Twitter’s new service will follow Facebook as a text-only service as pictures and videos won’t be viewable on the entry-level cell phones.

Twitter has grown their company that is now popular enough to boast a staggering 218 million world-wide users. Users in the U.S. only account for 20 percent of Twitter’s new-customer growth. This slow of new-customer growth in the U.S., is because Twitter has now penetrated at satisfactory numbers in the U.S. market. To maximize new growth potential, Twitter is concentrating on countries with smaller existing numbers of users.

Twitter recently held their first public offering which valued the social media giant at approximately $25 billion. In October, Twitter filed an S-1 form with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of its IPO, listing foreign countries that have been targeted to expand the company’s numbers of users. On page 16 of the document, Twitter names their target countries as being: Argentina; France; Japan; Russia; South Africa; and Saudi Arabia. The deal with U2topia making Twitter available to cell phones without access to the Internet will certainly help Twitter to reach their goals and possibly beyond their projected numbers.

J. P. Morgan estimates that U.S. penetration of Twitter sits at around 22 percent, while the rest of the world’s market is only estimated at a low of nine percent. By concentrating on the new markets Twitter hopes to increase the average revenue for foreign users that now sits at a mere $0.30 per international user, while the U.S. users are estimated at $2.17. Twitter estimates these figures based on the revenue generated per 1000 timeline views.

To increase their users, Twitter has already been partnering with small regional telecommunication carriers to bring their service to those without data capabilities. Pakistan’s Mobilink has already offered the service to their pre-paid customers earlier this year. Mobilink is one of the biggest carriers in Pakistan. Similar deals have been completed in India also.

In a deal with Deutsche Telekom, Twitter gets high priority on the telecom’s smartphone homescreens. A widget on the user’s mobile allows them to easily access Twitter to keep up with trends. Deutsche Telekom’s customers are in countries in which Twitter has particularly low market penetration. The service with Deutsche Telekom will cover countries such as: the Netherlands, Croatia, Greece and Romania. They will also be prioritizing the Twitter widget in Germany where the economy is doing rather well compared to other countries that Twitter is targeting.

The Singapore service is called “Fonetwish” and already has over 11 million users. The current Fonetwish users have been accessing Google Talk and Facebook on their mobiles that do not possess data connections. All that U2opia customers will need to do is enter a simple code and they’ll receive the popular trending topics from Twitter. The user will be receiving Tweets pertaining to the customer’s current location.

The recent deal with U2opia is just one way Twitter will be expanding their reach beyond the Internet and with a creative and aggressive market strategy like Twitter’s, one will begin to see many more users from foreign markets.

By Brent Matsalla

NBC News
All Things D
United States Securities and Exchange Commission

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