TweetDeck's Underground Project: Allowing TweetDecks To Talk To Nearby TweetDecks (TCTV)

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Now that TweetDeck’s Android app is out in beta mode, with its multiple streams (notably Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Google Buzz) and blended options, many users want to know when TweetDeck will overhaul its iPhone app. The company’s CEO and founder, Iain Dodsworth, who dropped by TechCrunch’s headquarters on Wednesday, says it could be a “good couple of months.”

So, what is taking the British startup so bloody long?

According to Dodsworth, his 15-man team is pretty strained, from working on updates to the desktop client, the Android app, the iPhone app and new features like User Streams (which delivers tweets in virtual real-time).

Dodsworth, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, also has a few tricks up his sleeve— you can bet that the iPhone version will be more than just a mirror of the new Android app. Right now, the TweetDeck lab is working on several “stealth” ideas and although Dodsworth was generally vague during our off and on camera interviews, he seemed especially excited about the idea of allowing nearby TweetDecks to talk to each other.

He doesn’t want to create a separate TweetDeck social network per se but such a function would certainly transform the social stream service (See video above). As he explains:

“One thought that we’re having is about applications, is about Tweetdecks that are aware of other TweetDecks. Be that any other version of TweetDeck. So if you can say walk into a bar and your phone is in the background communicating with other TweetDecks and seeing who is a close friend on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and whatever, that’s kind of interesting, there could be some sharing of information there. And some of this is dodgy ground as well, it’s like where is the privacy limit to this as well…It’s about these apps doing things without you having to get involved and perhaps say look there’s a friend of a friend in a bar down the road, you seem to follow the same people, do you know that this person is following person X who you’re not following…We don’t have to do our own networks, we don’t have to build a TweetDeck social network in any way, our mission here is to provide the tools and to provide hopefully the UI to consumer social media in a very powerful way.”

As evidenced by his statement, the function is not ready for prime time and it may not be ready for the next version of the iPhone app (or ever). However, it is an interesting concept that sheds light on Dodsworth’s larger strategy for TweetDeck. During our off-camera interview, Dodsworth said it was about “serendipity,” getting TweetDeck in the geo-location game and enhancing a users’ ability to find unexpected connections. As an aggregator of the major social streams, TweetDeck has a lot of data at its disposal to connect these dots.

During our chat, we also got a look at TweetDeck’s numbers. Since the Android’s debut earlier this month (it’s still in a very beta release), there have been 50,000 downloads. That’s far less than the 2.6 million iPhone downloads and the number of iPad downloads (which Dodsworth says is well north of 50,000). However, engagement is very high for the Android. According to Dodsworth, despite fewer downloads, 4x more tweets have been sent from the Android TweetDeck app versus the iPad app.

Those numbers should hopefully rise across the board as TweetDeck enhances the real time nature of its service. This week, the company announced that the User Streams Preview is now available to all users. You can download the free preview here.

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