Everyone knows that Apple is an extremely secretive company. Some would say to a fault. But it seems to have served them well over the years. That’s why it’s not surprising at all to see that none of Apple’s key executives use public social networking services. And that’s why it’s a bit interesting that Apple Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, Scott Forstall, just signed up for Twitter.
Forstall hasn’t tweeted yet, and who knows if he actually will. But what I do know is that his account has been verified by Twitter — meaning it is actually him. And I also know that there’s no way Twitter would have verified the account unless he (or someone at Apple on his behalf) asked Twitter to. Something is up. But what?
It’s certainly possible that Forstall wants to save his vanity Twitter handle (@forstall) just in case someone else tries to use it to impersonate him — or if he thinks he may want to use the service in the future (like when he no longer works at Apple). But the more interesting scenario will be if he intends to actually use the account sometime soon.
Certainly, Apple knows that they’re taking hits left and right on the various social networks about issues such as the iPhone 4 antenna problems. So far, they’ve shown no interest in managing such things, but might they be coming around? It doesn’t seem likely the Forstall would be doing that, but remember that fellow SVP Phil Schiller is the one who personally took charge of the App Store issues when they were spiraling out of control. That effort seemed to work well.
Then of course there is Apple CEO Steve Jobs who likes to personally respond to emails from customers.
But let’s remember that Forstall is the Vice President of iPhone software. Perhaps he’s exploring Twitter because Apple is thinking about some sort of partnership or deeper integration of the service with the iPhone going forward. After all, Twitter’s iPhone app (formerly known as Tweetie) is undoubtedly one of the most popular apps on the device.
And don’t forget the rumors that Apple was thinking about Facebook integration for the iPhone. Nothing came of that with iOS 4, but integration of Facebook and Flickr in software such as iPhoto, suggests that Apple isn’t opposed to such partnerships. For the iPhone, Twitter could be a perfect one. But that’s all pure speculation, of course.
That’s not to say Apple doesn’t use Twitter at all — but all the accounts they have are purely for marketing purposes: iTunesTrailers, iTunesMovies, iTunesMusic, etc. And obviously, there are a number of fake Steve Jobs accounts on Twitter — and even one for Fake Steve Jobs. But none of those are legitimate. And again, the more interesting thing here is that Twitter verified Forstall’s.
When asked for comment, a Twitter representative said they didn’t know anything about it. I’ve reached out to Apple as well — but don’t expect to hear back.
So who knows what’s going on here. Maybe Forstall just decided to see what all the fuss was about. (But again, why bother verifying it?) Of course, with zero tweets and zero people he’s following, it could be a bit boring. Or maybe Apple is about to get a lot more interesting. Can you imagine if Jobs was regularly tweeting? Given his brief email style, it actually seems like the perfect medium for him.
Update: Twitter has confirmed that they verified the account for him, but won’t say more than that.
Update 2: And Forstall just followed someone. Conan. He’s clearly poking around.
Incidentally, Conan’s most recent tweet is, “I found a huge design flaw in my new iPhone. People get angry when I talk on it during a funeral.“
Conan, by the way, is still only following the peanut butter random woman out of his 1.1 million followers.