Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh

Twitter has just announced that it has restored full SMS functionality to customers in the UK who are using Vodafone. While any Twitter user can submit updates via text message, for months only users in North America have been able to receive them (a key part of the service if you don’t have a smart phone). Other countries used to have this functionality, but Twitter began to cut them off after reporting that a single heavy UK user could cost up to $1000 in fees per year.

From Twitter’s blog post:

Vodafone UK has signed an agreement with Twitter allowing customers to send and receive SMS updates at no additional cost. Sending tweets from your mobile will be part of your normal text messaging bundle with Vodafone—there will be no extra fees. In fact, for the first few weeks, sending tweets won’t even effect your bundle. Receiving tweets via SMS on your mobile is totally free. Vodafone loves Twitter!

For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe.

Also worth noting is the latest chapter in the story of Twitter’s mysterious sidebar box that may-or-may-not be an ad, some day. Two weeks ago Twitter introduced an unobtrusive box in the ride sidebar of user profiles, where it began to promote some of its own services (including Twitter Search). Three days ago, it began showing ads for third party services. One of these was for ExecTweets, a recently-launched aggregator of Tweets from high-ranking business exectuives that was built in part by Federated Media. Federated’s John Battelle wrote that the ad network was paying Twitter, but it was unclear if this was directly related to the promo appearing on Twitter’s homepage. And the other two apps being promoted – an iPhone client called Tweetie and a web app called Twittervision – weren’t paying a cent.

Today Twitter appears to have swapped these promos out for new ones, which include Twidroid (a Twitter app for Android), twistori (a social experiment), and march tweetness (a Twitter service that revolves around the NCAA tournament).