Seesmic is announcing tonight that it has acquired leading 3rd party Twitter client Twhirl. Seesmic is still in closed Alpha status right now - though we have invites if you'd like them: email firstname.lastname@example.org with the word Seesmic in the subject line and we'll send you one.Loic Le Meur's video chat service
How could the acquisition of an app that runs entirely on the Twitter API, by another service that isn't even publicly available yet be a big deal? Let us count the ways...
Seesmic gets Twhirl's fast growing userbase, cross platform desktop AIR envrionment and its very capable developer. Marco Kaiser, creator of Twhirl, gets a job, presumably cash and stock in Seesmic, plus access to Seesmic's high-profile funding and Loic Lemur's catchet. It could have been Snitter or it could have been Twitterrific, but Twhirl has the momentum among 3rd party Twitter clients and that's who moved first.
Twhirl even got on Fox News this week. They didn't spell its name right, but the point is that Twitter is creeping into the mainstream and Twhirl is the best way to use Twitter.
Here's Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur talking about the deal, followed by our analysis of the technology implications.
Seesmic runs on XMPP/Jabber, the protocol that provides the immediate communication and presence awareness of many Instant Messenging clients. You know how nice, smooth and in-touch IM is. Once any of your internet communication experiences goes on in that kind of environment - you don't ever want to go back again. At the very least, it's a game changing option to have along with asynchronous forms of communication.
Surprisingly, it's the video half of this deal that supports XMPP now, not the Twitter half.
We wrote in January about XMPP powering the future of online communication. Twitter supports XMPP messenging but only native IM clients like Google Talk seem to have integrated it so far. Seesmic plus Twhirl, powered by XMPP is going to be hot. Instant text and video communication and presence status.
Video + Microblogging = Rich User Experience
The video experience of Seesmic is hard to explain until you've tried it. It's a lot more than just "Twitter for video." (See our post "Seesmic Transcends Comparisons With Twitter") Those differences are going to soften now, though. A combined service will offer a continum of communication depending on your broadcasting comfort and time to consume inbound messages. Text is what the vast majority of people prefer to produce, but video is incredibly compelling to consume.
How long until even more services are rolled into this new dynamo? Seesmic already integrates outbound publishing with YouTube, Qik and Twitter. How long until the company rolls out lifestreaming capabilities ala FriendFeed, displaying recent user and aggregate-friend activity on any number of other services - then storming the Facebook Newsfeed as a packaged solution to the 3rd party RSS feed dilemma there? Probably not very long. FriendFeed is already inching towards the Newsfeed, literally, by getting into the Minifeed on Facebook. Every social network wants to act as the central location for user activity around the web, but it's far less trivial than just letting users plug in RSS feeds or usernames. Lifestreaming apps are making this a service, FriendFeed is the leader today, but somehow this functionality is a logical thing to come to Seesmic/Twhirl next.
Seesmic won't be able to work too closely with anything more than the recently launched FriendFeed API because that service, for all its nimbleness risks holding out for an unrealistically large acquisition more than it risks anything else.
There's no shortage of lifestreaming apps that the company could work with, though.
AIR - Cross Platform RIA
The best thing about Twhirl is that it's built in Adobe AIR. While Microsoft's Silverlight is coming on hard and fast, the AIR/Flex/Flash ecosystem is made for hotness and has the most momentum in the grassroots developer community.
The second multimedia communication service built on AIR that gets acquired is going to go for a much higher price than we can presume this first one did, especially if it comes into the deal with XMPP of its own. Throw in integration of the new UStream API for live streaming video and you've got the kind of platform that Skype could have become if it hadn't hit the swamp of mega-acquisition. Twhirl and Seesmic together have many of the traits that countless other companies are looking for, now.
Seesmic plus Twhirl is of course just two very forward-looking organizations in a large, diverse economy of innovation. Look at this deal though and you'll see a big part of the future of online communication technology, no matter who it is that makes it happen.