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Twitter CEO: We're saving live TV

By David Goldman, staff writer


BARCELONA, Spain (CNNMoney) -- Amid all the buzz about whether or not Twitter will ever find a profitable business model, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on Monday pitched the social network as a potent weapon for businesses.

Twitter has become a "second screen" alongside television, making major social events out of live TV, programmed broadcasts and even commercials, Costolo said in a keynote address at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

For instance, when Fox airs the show Glee, Twitter traffic increases by a factor of 30 and maintains that rate until the show is over. And during this year's Super Bowl, users blasted out 4,000 tweets per second.

"There are business implications of this trend: TV shows become events, meaning people watch them as they happen," Costolo said. "We're so used to creating experiences for our users, but now our users are creating experiences for each other."

Twitter provides a social framework around television, forcing people to watch shows as they air to get the full TV-watching experience, Costolo said. And here's good news for advertisers: Twitter logs show that users are also watching the commercials.

Costolo made no mention about how Twitter might monetize that event effect for itself.

Instead, he said that his company's focus remains on ensuring that Twitter users are continually getting an improving experience out of the service.

The CEO noted that 40% of Twitter users connect via mobile devices, and half use multiple methods of connecting to the service. Despite several makeovers on both mobile and on the Web over the past year, the experience of Twitter across multiple platforms remains too divergent and confuses the user, Costolo said.

"The way it is now, you have to relearn Twitter from device to device. You shouldn't have to think about how to use Twitter," he said. "We want Twitter to be instantly useful, simple to use and always present."

Twitter was not always present over the past few weeks in Egypt, when the now-overthrown government opted to shut down the service for its citizens.

Costolo declined to comment on Twitter's impact on the region. He used the topic as a segue into his view that the service needs to improve so that even more users want to connect and, more importantly, tweet.

The company acknowledged that a growing number of people follow Twitter feeds but do not themselves tweet.

That's why Costolo said he is hoping to get the service to a place where Twitter operates ubiquitously and seamlessly, so that those sending messages no longer see the Twitter platform: "All we see is ourselves." To top of page

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