Remember when Twitter was a mere fringe hobby, beloved by early adopters but mystifying to everyone else? Well, today we got a clear-as-a-bell reminder that those days are long gone, when the company took to the Today Show to introduce a new look.
Users can now add a header photo, and recent images have been relocated into their own snazzy box.
“What we’ve heard over and over again from our users is they want to bring more of their personality to the profile pages,” explained CEO Dick Costolo. “So today’s changes are all about bringing that personality forward, more media forward, more photos forward, so it’s much easier to see these media experiences and flip through them.”
Mr. Costolo was in the no-doubt rare experience of being sandwiched in between Justin Bieber’s mom and a concert by Pink.
The announcement itself was preceded by a brief tour of the Twitter offices, guided by a reporter identified as hailing from E! News and introduced with the song “Rockin’ Robin.”
Interwoven with employee interviews and footage of the company cafeteria (which is apparently called the @birdfeeder) was an explanation of just what the company does and how ubiquitous it’s become. The Biebs uses it! Obama and Romney use it!
“The draw is working on something that matters,” Mr. Costolo explained, when the free snacks came up.
Once the brief office tour wrapped up, it was on to the unveiling. Mr. Costolo emerged from the green room to join Matt Lauer, Ryan Seacrest and that woman who isn’t Ann Curry on the couch, in front of some strange red flower arrangement.
But not so fast–first, Mr. Lauer wanted to hear about Twitter’s purpose in the long term. (You and me and everyone in the tech press both, Matt.)
“Twitter brings you closer,” he said. “We see this over and over again from our users. It brings them closer to the action. It brings them closer to their heroes. Ryan’s got–” and here he gestured to Mr. Seacrest, seated mere feet away–“8 million followers on Twitter. It’s because he pulls them into everything he’s doing. and brings them closer to everything he’s doing.”
Sounds to us like media might be winning the tug-of-war for Twitter’s soul.
Finally, at the end of the segment, it was time to actually debut the new look.
He also added that the company is debuting an iPad app redesign, which is “all about letting people flip through photos and videos more easily.”
Twitter explained the changes in more detail on the company blog, adding that, on mobile, you’ll also photo streams below a person’s most recent tweets.
Word came yesterday that image hosts were the next third-party services to get the boot, and from the new look it’s easy to see why–a big part of this redesign appears to be standardizing the photo browsing experience. So as you consume your mid-morning coffee, you might want to take a moment to pour one out for yfrog and Twitpic.