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Twitter

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  • Vendor: Twitter, Inc.
  • Version: Varies with device
  • Price: Free

Is there possibly a bigger overnight success story than Twitter? Launched in 2006, it was a quirky little thing that let people post short messages — a mere 140 characters — and follow the posts of others. What could you possible have to say that other people would want to read? Or, what could you possibly say in so few characters?

Turns out, quite a bit.

As of March 2014, Twitter boasted 225 million monthly active users. It does somewhere near a quarter-billion dollars in revenue in a quarter. You can't turn on a TV or watch a morning show or see a billboard or visit Facebook or load a website without seeing a reference to Twitter. Or to a "hashtag" — the unofficial method by which Twitter users began making their tweets more easily searchable. It's not quite as ubiquitous as, say, text messaging, but it's not that far off, either. Twitter is a way for celebrities other members of the famous ilk to "connect" with their fans. It's a way for anyone to communicate with everyone.

And mobile quickly became Twitter's go-to medium. The ability to post from anywhere, at any time, be it via app or mobile site or text. The ability to post a selfie or countless pictures of food. Or, more important as we started to see with the Arab Spring uprising, the ability to share news as it's happening (much to the chagrin of the occasional government).

It's not all been without controversy, however, especially when it comes to apps. Twitter still provides APIs for developers to tap into, but it has significantly capped the number of users new apps can have, thus limiting the usefulness of apps as a revenue source for developers. Meanwhile, Twitter's own apps have been a bit of a mess, off and on.

With Twitter, you have to take the good (social change and the connecting of the world) with the bad (anything and everything Kardashian and Bieber). And that's OK. Because you only have to take it for 140 characters at a time.

Oh, by the way be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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