Twitter is expanding its feature set a bit, giving users the ability to email Tweets directly from Twitter.com, whether or not the recipient actually has a Twitter account. That capability, which will appear as a separate button within the interface, will apparently arrive for all users within the next few weeks.
“Sometimes you want to share with another group, like your college roommates or your parents or a friend who isn’t yet on Twitter,” read the explanatory note on Twitter’s blog.
The ability to rocket Tweets beyond Twitter and into someone’s inbox could increase the service’s visibility (if it wasn’t famous enough already) and perhaps compel more people to sign up for it. Any expansion of Twitter’s footprint to the broader cloud could also make Facebook and Google, each of which boast their own fully-featured social networks, a little nervous. After all, if Twitter starts allowing users to email Tweets to those without an account, what’s to stop the service from introducing more robust interface features that compete directly with similar Facebook and Google offerings?
Even as Twitter’s become more fully featured over the course of its existence, the Tweets themselves have never expanded beyond a 140-character limit; nor has it allowed users to update their profiles beyond certain bare-bones information. If Twitter’s executives and developers start allowing users to write 280-character Tweets (or even more) and build in-depth profiles, it could signal the company’s intention to ram head-on into Facebook and Google Plus. That would certainly darken the semi-friendly relationships those social networks seem to (publicly) have with each other.
Expanding Twitter’s feature set could also help those IT vendors that use Twitter more and more as a data source for sentiment-analysis and collaboration tools. Salesforce, Oracle, Google and SAP have all either launched their own tools or bought startups that specialize social-network monitoring and analysis.