In an attempt to make it easier for mobile outsiders to experience the twitterverse without becoming a member, Twitter has released a new feature that may broaden its appeal beyond its current user base.
We’ve always been big fans of trusty SMS messaging. In fact, sending a text was originally the only way users could tweet. This is why Tweets are 140 characters — they need to fit into a text message.
We value SMS because it’s simple, instant and universal. Recently, we’ve added a few new features to make Twitter even more useful with SMS.
Fast Follow. Anyone in the US can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from New York City’s office of emergency management (@NotifyNYC). Just text ‘follow NotifyNYC’ to 40404 in the US. (Official Twitter Blog)
Connecting a social network to text messages is nothing new as many blog platforms already support this feature (not to mention Facebook as well).
However the fact that users curious about the twitterverse can catch up on the latest tweets minus the membership could increase Twitter’s influence beyond the corporate API (not to mention its domain).
This “passive follower” feature could allow Twitter to extend its reach beyond Facebooks 500 million users, enabling the micro blogging service to surpass its rival and become the pulse of the planet.
While Facebook will probably respond by offering a similar feature, they may have a harder time convincing their user base to adopt it (as Facebookers may “opt out” of sending updates to strangers), which could enable Twitter to finally surpass Facebook (to the horror of Zuckerburg).