Twitter acquires SMS specialist

By supporting SMS Twitter can expand usage to cheaper phones, according to analyst

Twitter has acquired Cloudhopper, a provider of mobile phone text messaging infrastructure. Twitter hopes to use the company's expertise to improve the scalability and reach of its SMS (Short Message Service) service, according to a Twitter blog post.

Twitter handles close to a billion SMS messages per month and that number is growing. Cloudhopper's infrastructure lets Twitter connect directly to mobile carrier networks in countries all over the world, the blog post said. The company has been working with Cloudhopper for the last eight months, according to the blog post, which doesn't go into detail on what the expansion of the SMS service will entail.

Today, Twitter lets users with some operators in nine countries send and receive Twitter messages by SMS, according to its web site.

Using SMS, mobile subscribers with even the cheapest phones can start using Twitter, according to Nick Jones, vice president at market research company Gartner. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, including cost, since users may have to pay standard SMS rates for each message, Jones said.

The 140-character length of Twitter messages was inspired by the length of SMS messages.

Twitter didn't provide financial details of the deal. The blog post only welcomes Joe Lauer, who founded the company in late 2008, and Kristin Kanaar -- who has already updated her Linkedin account from director of carrier integration at Cloudhopper to the mobile team at Twitter.

This is the second time in two weeks that Twitter has acquired a company with a product for mobile phones. On April 9, Twitter acquired Atebits, which has developed iPhone Twitter client Tweetie.

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