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December 13, 2013

Twitter Joins Up With Truecaller To Mesh Phone Numbers and Tweets

Twitter has been on a tear of late, getting together new deals with third parties, many of which aren't even found in the United States, in order to get more users interested beyond the United States. Twitter's deals have been spotted in all kinds of markets, ranging from the established to the burgeoning, and one of the newest such deals looks to strike India, where Twitter has joined up with Truecaller, an app that's proving very popular there.

Truecaller got its start in Sweden, at last report, and has proven very popular in India with around half of its new user counts coming from there. Reports suggest that Truecaller gets around a million users added per week to its roster, and of that million, close to half a million comes from India. The combined total of users in India is around 22 million, or nearly one in every three smartphone users in the country.

So what's driving these numbers to Truecaller? Essentially, it's the basic operation: with Truecaller, users get access to a reverse-lookup style phone directory that can be accessed via mobile app, allowing users to input a phone number and discover just who's connected to said number. But with Twitter getting involved, people will be able to use that same phone number to find someone's Twitter handle, and even follow that person via Truecaller. It will be a bit truncated at first, however, with no ability to follow an entire timeline or comment on other users' tweets. But still, just getting into the fray of following is enough to likely let users swing around to the full Twitter app and get all the benefits therein.

The terms involved in this agreement are being kept very close to the vest—there's not even much in the way of quiet rumor as to how much money was involved in this affair, if any at all—but at least some of it appears to be in the form of goodwill, which Truecaller could very much use thanks to the recent attacks on the app by the Syrian Electronic Army. Though the exact extent of damage in that attack was disputed, it's still likely to leave a bad taste in some users' mouths.

But what this move underscores more than anything else is the move to more emerging economies. Companies like Twitter, and other U.S.-based companies with online operations, are starting to regard these new markets as having serious potential, since the penetration rate is so very low. Though Twitter recently cut off access to its API, there are reports that Twitter is, essentially, letting just a few very specific developers back in, particularly in places—and in ways—that can help drive the overall Twitter experience. It's kind of like the Wonka plant from the classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”: there were too many getting in and producing products that were essentially Twitter all over again, so the factory closed and only a few golden tickets to get in were emerging.

However it's described, it's clear Twitter's starting to at least make itself a bit more available these days. With Truecaller, there's not only a useful new function to be added to the roster, but also a significant presence in places Twitter would like to be. We may not see this kind of thing happen often, but it's still likely to show up every so often.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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