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Twitter Pro Accounts Good Step for Industry

Shaking your head over Twitter's lack of not just profits but a basic revenue model has become quite a sport. So there will be some who regret hearing that the company is apparently finally readying something it's been discussing for a long time: pro accounts. Tech companies should pay attention to the model, not just to make commercial use of the service, but as the germ of a brainstorming session on breaking out of old revenue model habits.

A VentureBeat interview with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone offers the following clues:

  • a commercial API that will sit atop the normal API
  • marketing approach of "pay money to make more money"
  • certified business accounts
  • analytics that will make business users interested in giving up their free accounts so Twitter doesn't have to force people to switch
Clearly Twitter is going to need money if it is to expand and acquire other companies. (Apparently it wanted to buy FriendFeed, but Facebook wrote a check first.)

But what I most interesting about this is how Twitter is looking at some less usual ways of making money. There's nary a bit of advertising in play, which all too often has tended to be the knee-jerk reaction of younger companies when they discussed their revenue models. And there's no mention of "we're going to charge for premium accounts which will get more of what we already offer." That's been an issue when the businesses find out just how low conversion rates can be. (Think single digits.) Making newer business models work in the tech industry is not going to be a result of slavishly following the advice of self-anointed gurus. It's going to take work and a significant amount of creativity -- and it will be interesting to see if what Twitter management has in mind is going to be enough.

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