Seesmic just announced the launch of Seesmic Look at an event in New York City. Seesmic Look, which is a Windows-only product, is anything but your standard Twitter client. Seesmic Looks is targeted at mainstream users who would normally be intimidated by the complexity of standard Twitter clients like Seesmic or TweetDeck.
As Seesmic's founder and CEO Loic Le Meur told us yesterday, there hasn't really been a lot of innovation in the Twitter ecosystem when it comes to Twitter clients. Seesmic Look is squarely aimed at mainstream users. Instead of giving users lots of options, it tries to keep things simple. Users, for example, don't have to decide which users they want to follow. Instead, Seesmic has created an interactive experience that is more like browsing TV channels than using a traditional Twitter client. Seesmic Look offers a curated list of Twitter accounts that are organized by interests like news, sports or celebrities.
These curated channels are hosted on Seesmic's servers and Seesmic plans to regularly update these lists
Seesmic collaborated with Microsoft on this product and conducted extensive usability testing to make sure that the software is easy to use. The application was optimized for Windows 7 but will work on any modern Windows operating system.
Emphasis on Design and Usability
Seesmic clearly devoted a lot of time to getting the design of the app right and the screenshots don't really do it justice. Depending on the mode (timeline or playback), tweets fade in and out and scroll across the screen, for example. The background of the app changes continuously and matches the Twitter background of the user or brand you are looking at. Seesmic also supplies two built-in themes: one light and one dark theme. More themes will follow in the future.
Not for Power Users
It's important to note that Seesmic is intentionally not targeting power users with this application. This does not mean that the app isn't also a fully featured Twitter client. Users don't need a Twitter account to browse through Seesmic Look's channels. If they do sign in, however, they can browse their inbox (direct messages and @replies) and their personal Twitter stream. The app also supports lists, and Twitter search and trends are prominently featured in the user interface.
For now, new users can't set up a new Twitter account in the application, but Seesmic is working together with Twitter to make this possible in a future version.
Seesmic Look for Brands
In addition to the Seesmic-curated channels, Seesmic Looks will also give brands the option to showcase their Twitter accounts in branded channels. Among the eight launch partners Seesmic announced today are Red Bull, the Huffington Post, Kodak, CNN Money and Ford. Le Meur told us that these companies are currently getting free exposure during the launch phase. Seesmic plans to charge monthly fees for these channels in a few month. Brands will also be able to create their own themes and distribute branded versions of Seesmic Look in the future.
For Seesmic, this represents an obvious opportunity to create a revenue channel. To get these brands into the app, Twitter has partnered with Microsoft, which was responsible for bringing roughly half of today's launch partners to Seesmic.
As Le Meur told us, Twitter itself is also quite excited about the prospects of this app and has given it its official seal of approval.
This is definitely an interesting strategy for Seesmic. Brands obviously want to use Twitter to connect to mainstream users. For a lot of new users, however, understanding Twitter is simply too complicated. Twitter has always struggled to convert new users into regular users, which explains why the company would be so interested in supporting this project.In our discussion yesterday, Le Meur acknowledges that the current crop of Twitter tools isn't doing a good job at making Twitter easier for this group of users. Seesmic Look is easy enough to use for mainstream users and - if successful - could herald the arrival of a new crop of Twitter clients that are exclusively aimed at making Twitter easier and more fun to use.