Twitter mulling standalone Direct Messaging app

2012 Twitter logo

Twitter, of all companies, could enter the crowded instant messaging space dominated by WhatsApp, Viber, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook with a standalone direct-messaging app. According to a new report Thursday, the company plans to “significantly update its direct-messaging product”.

One of the options being considered is making Twitter’s Direct Messages the focus of the rumored standalone app. It wasn’t immediately clear how exactly such an app would compete with Viber and WhatsApp, the two leading services in the instant messaging space that tie to your cell phone number…

According to sources who spoke to AllThingsD, Twitter earlier this year met with employees from MessageMe, another popular mobile-messaging application.

But private messaging hasn’t always been on Twitter’s agenda as the company at one point in its history discussed “possibly killing direct messaging off altogether”.

On bringing “the long-buried DM feature to the forefront”:

Twitter has kicked around the idea of launching a standalone direct-messaging application separate from the Twitter app, according to three people familiar with the matter. It is unclear, however, what form the final revamp of direct messages will take.

Twitter currently has 200+ million users.

The rumor comes hot on the heels off Twitter’s recent feature addition allowing users to opt-in to receive direct messages from any follower, regardless of whether or not they’re following the person back, as depicted below.

twitter dm option

While this new capability seems to appeal to big brands on Twitter, for ordinary folks Twitter Direct Messages seem better suited. In that regard, a dedicated app could go a long way toward persuading people to use it as their go-to private messaging service.

The micro-blogging startup seems to be concerned about Snapchat:

Twitter even ran one of its own surveys, according to sources familiar with the matter, finding that people are indeed using Snapchat to engage more with others. And one of Twitter’s updates to Android tablet apps earlier this month borrows heavily from Snapchat’s in-message illustration features.

Twitter in a regulatory filing earlier in the week announced the decision to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange. On September 12, the company revealed it had confidentially filed for an IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Appeasing to advertisers ahead of the IPO, Twitter teamed up with cable provider Comcast and its fully-owned subsidiary NBCUniversal on a new ‘See This’ button that lets Xfinity customers schedule DVR recordings on-the-fly, directly from Twitter.

Twitter (See It, Comcast, The Voice)Twitter (See It, Comcast, Today)Twitter (See It, Comcast, Xfinity)

It’s also interesting that Twitter sees the KakaoTalk service as a threat, as evidenced Twitter’s S-1 IPO filing. KakaoTalk is a free messaging for iOS, Android, Bada OS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and PC that includes free text and free call features.

I’m not sure the world needs another direct-messaging app.

On the other hand, the app could quickly take off given Twitter’s vast pool of existing users and help boost its base as non-users join the fold.

What’s your opinion?

Should Twitter release a standalone DM app?