New York, December 16, 2016: To attract new users to the platform, micro-blogging website Twitter developed a standalone instant messaging app in India for emerging markets but killed the product without launching it as the company shut down its Bengaluru engineering centre that developed it, a media report claimed on Friday.
According to Buzzfeed, the stand-alone app — for which Twitter spent more than a year developing it — was intended to be an on-ramp for new users to Twitter proper.
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The app was built at Twitter’s Indian engineering centre in Bengaluru and blended tweets and instant messages in a single interface. But the company killed it in September this year when it shut down its India engineering centre, the report added.
Twitter intended to identify “influencers” around certain topics — let’s say news or politics or sports and encourage them to create groups of interest within the app.
Twitter users could chat among themselves on the app and they could also subscribe to relevant Twitter accounts whose tweets would be pulled in automatically into these groups.
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“Twitter did not have that many active users in India, so the idea was that if enough people used the instant messaging app, we could expose a lot of people to tweets without them even going to Twitter in the first place,” Buzzfeed reported, quoting a source as saying.
“Eventually, we hoped they would see the value of signing up for Twitter and directly following as many people as they wanted,” it added.
A project lead in Twitter’s Bengaluru office, who oversaw the instant messaging project, reportedly decided to shut the project since the versions of the app that Twitter tested out with users anonymously did not get good feedback.
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“It did not test out so well in the market surveys that we did with college students and I think that was one of the reasons why Twitter decided to shelve it,” the rpeort added.
Less than a week after the company announced its global layoffs at the end of October, Twitter India head, Rishi Jaitley, quit after a four-year stint.
Just a couple of days later, Parminder Singh, Twitter’s managing director for Southeast Asia, resigned too. (IANS)