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Martin Essl

What did we do with ourselves before Twitter came along?

Such is its popularity that many of us check it first thing in the morning before we even look at our emails. On our timelines, we can easily see what’s happening in the world and what all our friends are up to.

Perhaps, one reason why Twitter has become such an integral part of our lives is precisely because it’s so quick and easy to discover new content, as well as keep in touch with people.


Amid Twitter’s ubiquity, it is often forgotten that the service very much has its roots in the humble world of SMS.

The 140-character limit is a lasting legacy, as well as one of Twitter’s defining characteristics, of its founding in 2006 as an SMS-inspired product.

It has come a long way since then and you are now just as likely to find URLs, images and videos as well as plain text in Tweets.

However, mobile continues to play an important role in the Twitter experience today – not to mention in its future. Around 60% of monthly active users access Twitter on a mobile device.

This is particularly pertinent in high growth countries, where many people are accessing the Internet – and Twitter – for the first time on a mobile device.

With this in mind, Conversations spoke to Twitter’s Martin Essl (pictured above), Senior Partnership Program Manager, Mobile, about Twitter on mobile and their partnership with Nokia on the Asha family and other Series 40-based devices.

How important is mobile to Twitter?

Mobile is very important to Twitter. Twitter was founded as an SMS-based product back in 2006 and since then mobile devices have always been one of the first touch points for Twitter.

We are committed to reaching every person on the planet, and our work on mobile and through partnerships like the one we have with Nokia help us get there. We want to ensure that people have a great and simple Twitter experience, no matter what device they are using.

Have you ever defined yourself as a mobile company or desktop company?

I’d say we are a primarily mobile company but we, of course, have a significant web presence with as well.

What potential is there for Twitter in some of the emerging markets?


We are highly focused on emerging regions. While Twitter is a generally well-known brand, there’s still work that we can do to make Twitter easier to use and more accessible to those areas.

We are at the early stages of exploring opportunities in South East Asia, Latin America, India and many other regions.

We see a lot of potential in those countries and we want to help users there discover content, follow their interests and give them a way to communicate with the world.

For example, a police chief in a Kenyan village was using Twitter to communicate with other villages. Or many protestors during the Arab spring were using Twitter to communicate with the world in real time and show everyone what was happening. 

Do people use Twitter differently in different parts of the world?

Twitter has many different meanings to many different users. For many people it is a social platform and for many users it is an interests-based platform.

We don’t define ourselves in one special category. We want to be a communications tool and a content tool for people – so they can discover new content, create content and communicate in different ways.

How does working with Nokia help Twitter?

Nokia have been a great partner, helping us to reach every person on the planet and, in particular, helping us reach consumers in emerging markets, especially around Series 40 and Asha projects.

We love the relationship with Nokia and we love to work with the team to find new ways of bringing Twitter and the mobile Internet closer to the user. We really appreciate everything that we have accomplished together. 

We are getting new forms of communication in the hands of people who haven’t had Internet before on their first Nokia device.

Nokia Asha 308

Finally, do you have a favourite Asha?

I have on my desk the Nokia Asha 308 and it’s been an awesome device so far. I love the Twitter client on it and I would say that it performs just like a smartphone.