Twitter is one of the webs success stories; only six years old with millions of active users. Like any business it needs to start generating income and has introduced some very draconian regulations recently.
There are probably only two ways to generate income: user subscription or an advertising model. It looks like Twitter will go down the advertising route and has already started pumping 'sponsored tweets' into users feeds. Now we learn of other significant changes clearly aimed at forcing users to adopt the official Twitter software as oppose to 3rd party tools. Developers are now limited to 100,000 active users (200,000 if you speak nicely to Twitter); software should not directly compete with the official tools; any Twitter feeds can not be shown along with other data. It is also starting to restrict features available to other big players such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Currently the privately owned company continues to rely on venture capital funding for the majority of revenue. Twitter is apparently aiming to generate $1bn by 2014, which is a tall order considering it was estimated to have pulled in around $150m last year. The majority of Twitter users interact via mobile device and this could prove a challenge for Twitter -- Facebook is already struggling to develop an advertising model for its mobile service.
Twitter has around 500 million users worldwide, with about 10m in the UK. There is no hard data on how many are actually active. Last year it was estimated that as many as 56 million accounts followed no one (and the reverse, 90 million accounts had no followers) so this places quite a dent in the 500m tally.
It's worth stating that all of the above figures are based on best estimates -- Twitter do not provide much in the way of official data.
In April 2011 Katie Stanton, Twitter’s vice president of international strategy, confirmed 200 million accounts. In September 2011 Twitter confirmed 100 million active users.
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