Twitter takes on Facebook: Let the social rumble begin

Twitter wants to dethrone the world's biggest social network -- too bad it dropped the ball with its latest app update

It seems Twitter has put on its big-boy pants and decided to take Facebook head on. In an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo introduced several major changes to Twitter's website and mobile apps. For example, the network now lets you upload a large "header" photo to your profile page, making it look very much like Facebook's new Timeline.

At his next stop on the chat show circuit, Costolo told PBS's Charlie Rose that he considers Apple a "mentor company," and Facebook was the enemy.

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In saying that, Costolo publicly declared war on the world's largest social network. On the mobile front, at least, Twitter is winning. According to eMarketer, Twitter is kicking Facebook's heinie in mobile ad revenues, bringing in $130 million versus Facebook's $73 million (though still a far cry from Facebook's total haul of nearly $4 billion last year). The new profile and mobile app design make it easier to place ads, notes The Telegraph's Christopher Williams, and it should enable Twitter to bring in even more revenue.

Twitter has already been muscling out the third-party developers who helped popularize the site, giving the boot to photo sharing add-ons like TwitPic and Yfrog, for example.

Ironically, yesterday I was singing the praises of Twitter's iPad app and how cool it was compared to, say, Facebook's. Literally half an hour later, Twitter released an update on the iTunes store. The new app? Not so cool. Most of the features I liked -- the ability to see my tweet stream, individual tweet, and the story or photo it linked to at the same time -- were gone.

Turns out I was not alone in my anti-new-app grumpiness, and many took to Twitter to dump on it. John Gruber, author of the inexplicably popular yet highly lucrative Daring Fireball blog, tweeted:

Interaction of today's new Twitter for iPad is so bad. No tappable URLs, usernames, or hashtags in timeline. Must tap tweet to expand first.
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