The Second Coming Of Sign In With Twitter

First a disclosure. The Gotham Gal and I personally own a lot of Twitter stock. I am not objective. With that behind me, I am going to talk a bit about Fabric today.

One of my great disappointments during the years I was closely involved at Twitter was the failure to make Sign In With Twitter a competitive offering with Facebook and then Google. In the early days of OAuth, Twitter was an innovator and leader in this area. But we did not invest enough in the technology and partnership development, we did not supply email addresses via the service, and we did not have as many users. Over time signing into an app with Twitter has declined as an option with developers in favor of Facebook and, increasingly, Google. And it bothered me a lot. Still does.

Yesterday Twitter announced Fabric, which is a set of tools for mobile developers that is an attempt to change that. The timing could not be better. We talk to a lot of mobile developers who come into our office seeking capital and mostly getting advice. I am alway interested in where they get their logins from. Most offer sign in with Facebook but many users are choosing not to use that these days. Many offer sign in with Google and that is growing in popularity but signing in with Google works way better on Android than iOS. Signing in with email remains a popular option, way more popular than you might imagine.

That tells me that there is an opening for Twitter to get back into this game in a big way and Fabric is their attempt to do just that. The enticements to use Fabric for developers are Crashlytics, a very popular crash reporting tool that Twitter purchased, MoPub, a mobile ad exchange that Twitter purchased, and Digits, the new mobile sign on offering. Crashlytics and MoPub are both really good services for analytics and monetization, but it is Digits that got my attention yesterday.

Digits lets you sign with your phone number without providing an email or a password. According to Twitter:

So we’re excited to announce Digits – part of the Twitter Kit – which is sign-in with phone number done right. It’s built on Twitter infrastructure so you don’t have to worry about managing multiple relationships with carriers and SMS interchanges. Digits is fully themeable so that it fits the user experience you’ve designed for your app. Digits won’t post anything on your user’s behalf since it isn’t tied to their social network accounts, including Twitter. And with Digits, your apps are ready for global adoption: it’s available immediately in 216 countries and in 28 languages, on iOS, Android and the web.

Here are the big things for me in this new service:

– Won’t post anything on your user’s behalf because it isn’t tied to their social network accounts, including Twitter. This is what got Facebook’s sign in product in trouble with users. This is a big deal.

– Available in 216 countries and 28 languages, on iOS, Android, and the web. Getting anything that involves the phone system (phone numbers and SMS) working all around the world is not trivial.

– No password required. It’s a pain to remember user ids, email addresses, and passwords. That’s why signing in with Facebook and Google is such an enticing thing to a user. Signing in with your phone number is an even better option in my mind.

So I’m excited to see Twitter take another swing at providing sign on tools and identity services to developers, particularly mobile developers. I’m hoping it’s a home run for them.


Comments (Archived):

  1. bsoist

    As a user, I still prefer signing in via email, though I have been using “sign in with Google” more since I switched to Android.As a developer, there have been several occasions where I would have much preferred Twitter provided the user’s email addresses. Is that going to change, by any chance?

    1. William Mougayar

      I think entering the email could be an option after the initial sign on, no? I understand it’s useful the first time around, if the site needs to collect that email, but on subsequent signons is the email needed?

      1. bsoist

        Collecting the email as an extra step is what I’ve always done, but it is an extra step for the user. As you point out, it is just a one step ever. I can live with it. Just wondering if it might be changing. If my memory is correct, Twitter provides a field for email that is blank which I always thought was because they did provide them at one point.

  2. Barry Nolan

    A) One from the USV portfolio playbook. Crashlytics + MoPub = Flurry 2.0.B) Sign of the times. The plain old phone number = new identity modelC) When will Facebook’s Parse acquisition include native mobile advertising in their PaaS offering?

    1. Nick Devane

      +1 for C

  3. Dan

    Does digits only work when signing in via mobile or can you also log in from your computer with just a phone number/No password? I’m trying to wrap my head around security implications… Not that it’s functionally different from email if you have the browser remember your password or Facebook if you keep your account logged in.

    1. fredwilson

      not sure

    2. falicon

      It would have to be some version of this…because otherwise…if I know your phone number, I have access to your account…

      1. Dan

        Yeah. It just feels like an incomplete solution. In effect you have 1 factor auth (Something I have) with 2 factor pain for every log in. For mobile only where security isn’t critical it’s probably OK, but if the application has any other sort of solution/you want to be able to let someone else log into the app using your phone it would seem to fall apart pretty quickly.” A text message is then sent with a confirmation code. Once the code is entered, access to the app is granted.The confirmation code expires after it is used, so the next time access to an app is needed a fresh code is sent out.”(…Cool in concept but not sure how it actually plays out. Too many real world edge cases where it fails.

  4. Guest

    I could totally imagine a scene in Back To The Future 2 where Marty’s entire social graph is based on the phone numbers in his Rolodex and all services are accessed using his phone number. I mean, they did nail it on the hover boards: (

  5. jason wright

    two factor authentication is a feature with some services i use, and involves my mobile phone and number. am i sure my number is safe inside twitter? can phone numbers be cloned?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yes. The NSA just told me so.

      1. jason wright

        a voice call?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Yes. Caller ID indicated they were calling from my phone.

          1. jason wright

            “hello, this is Angela Bennett”

          2. JimHirshfield

            I Googled her. But doesn’t seem relevant or funny. What am I missing?

          3. jason wright

            ‘the knowledge’ to drive a taxithe knowledge to work at a web company#soshocked 😮

          4. jason wright

            Sandra Bullock, The Net.

  6. OurielOhayon

    Fred signing with Google is actually dead simple. if you re signed in any of their app on iOS (any of them and they are very popular), it s just one tap. this is even easier than signing with FB.

    1. fredwilson

      yupbut when you are on android you are signed into google even if you aren’t using any of their apps

      1. OurielOhayon

        even better.

  7. Shaun Dakin

    Just signed in with Google 😉 seriously, the phone number option could be helpful, but for many people the cell phone is their only number and more valuable than their email address which could be disposable. Twitter would have to gain trust that they would not spam via sms.

  8. Gabriel Brown

    Sounds promising. Any thoughts on the “Mobile Connect” initiative the mobile carrier industry is working on? It is based on OpenID Connect.

    1. fredwilson

      fuck the mobile carriers

      1. Gabriel Brown

        that’s clear and decisive. As many of the comments on the board allude to, who can we trust for single sign-on? I’m not thrilled by any of the options discussed here (including carriers)

        1. fredwilson

          google and twitter are two companies i trust

          1. Gabriel Brown

            I’m sort of okay with them sometimes, but like I suspect many other people do, a mixed economy seems safest (use Twitter some places, Google in others, etc.)

          2. Ahsan Sohail

            I think the mixed economy will remain; at the end of the day, its the user’s choice.

      2. jason wright

        absolutely. went to my local Virgin store this week and was offered a rolling 30 day sim only package of unlimited voice minutes, texts, and data and at a seemingly good price. after quizzing/ interrogating the sales assistant a little i found out the truth. yes, voice and text are unlimited. the “unlimited’ data is in fact pegged at 3.5 GB pcm, and after that the download speed is throttled back. This package is on a 3G signal. Throttled back to 2G?#deceptive

        1. JimHirshfield

          The chokehold…you can still breath…what’s the issue.#sarcasm

          1. jason wright

            just about. went swimming last night. woke up this morning with a ripping throat.#publicpoolssuck.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Are you a regular swimmer? Could just be an adjusting issue.

          3. jason wright

            semi regularish. not as regular as cycling.last night the water looked less than pristine. i phoned today and they denied any knowledge of other rippers.#doubtfuldeniali wonder if i should start a tweet storm?

          4. JimHirshfield

            “rippers”? What’s that?

          5. jason wright

            the feeling of my throat being ripped by a cheese grater when i swallow#supersore

          6. JimHirshfield

            Oh, that’s bad.How much chlorinated water did you swallow???

          7. jason wright

            that’s an issue. there’s another pool further away that uses an ozone system. i may start going there……but the Steven Johnson video did remind me that chlorine is good for cholera.

          8. JimHirshfield

            Sounds like you just need swimming lessons. 😛

          9. William Mougayar

            take a sample and get it tested.

          10. jason wright

            good idea. i might do that, and then sue.

          11. JimHirshfield

            Is there a home kit? We had the water in our house and lake tested when we bought the house. Not cheap.

      3. JimHirshfield

        Over-the-top recommended. Just beware of the early termination situation.

  9. JLM

    .The gold standard of using any app is the ease with which it can be accessed which is simply another way of saying that the easier it is to sign in the more usage there will be.There is no benefit of it being an organic function as most folks don’t care or remember how they signed in but if it is not easy, folks will wander away.That exact thing happened to me when I was using my Nexus 7 which I had neglected for some time. I didn’t have an app on it I wanted to use. I couldn’t remember my user name but I could remember my password.Bottom line: I did something else.I have one device which uses my fingerprint and that is very slick. I typically carry my fingerprints around with me these days. Habit.JLM.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Yup. UX is everything when it comes to mobile-and it is especially hard to program in. Was talking with some startups yesterday and we started talking about all the keystrokes some programs use to get things done. Can’t be more than three to four at max.

    2. JimHirshfield

      “I couldn’t remember by user name but I could remember my password.”This tells me you use the same password across many services. Tsk, tsk.

      1. bsoist

        not necessarily. I very often make up a throwaway wildcard email with new services – to keep track of where spam might be coming from, a trick I learned from my dad who used to add a suite number to our postal address for the same reason 🙂 and then I sometimes find myself not remembering what email I used. The password, on the other hand, I can usually guess. Not going to get into how, but I do use a lot of different passwords.

        1. JimHirshfield

          I can see that. But….edge case? I don’t think most people create a bunch of disposable email addresses.

          1. bsoist

            anybody with a Gmail account does 🙂

          2. JimHirshfield

            Ah ha! They have the _ability_ with gmail. But I don’t think your average user uses that feature. I never have.

          3. bsoist

            agreed. I was just trying to defend my friend who is just too smart to use the same password. cc @JLM:disqus

          4. JimHirshfield

            No doubt he agrees with you more than you agree with yourself.

      2. JLM

        .Haha, you wish. I use a variation of the app’s name with a special before or after based on the first letter of the app’s name.The system is something I was taught in a former life when I used to hang with very secretive people. I was paying attention.Read “Between Silk & Cyanide”JLM.

        1. JimHirshfield

          So, if one of your passwords leaks, we can reverse engineer others ’cause we know your algorithm?

          1. JLM

            .Not. Bloody. Likely.JLM.

    3. LE

      The gold standard of using any app is the ease with which it can be accessedLet’s take the example of sex for a moment [1]The gold standard of sex is not in “the ease with which it can be accessed”.It’s the quality of the sex, the partner, followed perhaps by the cost (zero?) and then the “ease which with it can be accessed”. Agree?That said it’s a total pain every time I want to refill my starbucks card on the starbucks app on my iphone I need to type in my password even though I’m accessing it from my phone.[1] Which as we both know was invented by the current generation.

      1. JimHirshfield

        You obviously have not mastered the art of app foreplay. Get a handle on that, and the flow will be much more rewarding.

      2. JLM

        .I don’t have that app on my Samsung Mega “slab of cheese” phone.JLM.

  10. William Mougayar

    The good thing about this also is that these tools are natively for the mobile experience. 86% of Twitter’s users are from mobile, and that’s higher than Facebook’s 68% usage ratio.

  11. Sheamus

    One thing I’m not clear on: what happens to your phone number when you sign in? Does it go in a list somewhere, that is accessible by Twitter (or a third party), or is it only used for access and then immediately deleted?If it’s the latter, then great – this could be huge. If it’s the former I suspect most people are more reluctant to give up their mobile phone number than they are their email address, and I don’t see this taking off at all.

    1. JimHirshfield

      In terms of access to you, on your mobile, if I have your email address I can be in your face as much as if I have your phone number. Right?

      1. Sheamus

        No, not at all. In fact, you can’t be “in my face” at all with my email. I can relatively easily get rid of a person annoying me via email (mark as junk/spam/blacklist etc), plus it’s not disruptive in a social sense. Email makes little to no sound. If I’m asleep and I get an email it isn’t going to wake me up etc.Conversely, if someone has my mobile, it’s much harder to block that person – even on phones/networks that support that they can just move to another phone to call from – and it’s massively disruptive in a social sense (phone ringing, etc). I’d be amazed if studies show people are happier giving up their phone numbers to third parties than they would be an email or anything less intrusive. Most people i know *hate* it when their phone rings! 🙂 Doubly so if it’s a cold call from a business.Also! –

        1. JimHirshfield

          I agree with you and retract my prior comment. :-)But I do turn off my phone volume at night…so no email AND no phone disruptions. And I’ve never been called by Twitter or Google (they both have my mobile number).

          1. Sheamus

            Like Fred I also trust Twitter. But trust is earned, and not so easy to come by with somebody signing in to what might already be a new service (the app) for the first time, and then being told they need to give their phone number to Twitter. I guess the proof will be in the take-up!

          2. JimHirshfield

            Good point, but question I have is: Does the new app have my number, or just Twitter, when I log in to the new app? I suppose the new app has it.

          3. LE

            The “known unknown” which is exactly the type of thing that prevents people from trying something [1][1] Among the group of people who know enough to think of the unknown that is.

          4. JimHirshfield

            I know. I don’t know what I don’t know?

      2. PeterisP

        SMS spam is a major pain point for me, as I rely on SMS for urgent messages but SMS spam-filtering isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as for email spam.My current policy is that unless I need it for two-factor authorization, any service company either doesn’t get my phone at all, or if they insist, then they get given an intentionally wrong number. Too bad I can’t get my number out of hands of those “loyal partner brands” that got it some years ago.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Yes. SMS spam is big pain in the ass. Agreed. I don’t think it originates with Twitter or Google having my number. I think the spammers just fire off a bajillion texts to random numbers.

    2. Richard

      This begs the the question, why do most apps require signing in at all?Having watched the developer conference, I was surprised at just how poorly twitter made their case for using phone number as a sign-in.Their best argument was developing countries don’t have email accounts? Huh? Don’t tell facebook that.Is this innovation? Why enter the number at all? You are on the mobile device using this number.What’s the 10x value add for developers?What’s the 10x value add for users?

      1. Elia Freedman

        Not to mention the elephant in the room: why should developers trust Twitter again?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Well, I think it comes down to: as a product marketer, do you want to make it easier for new/existing users to log in?

          1. Elia Freedman

            Easier, yes. But if I don’t trust the company I’m working with to provide it than I’m going to find an “easy” solution from someone else.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Yes, but at the risk of alienating a large cohort, no?It’s not about how you feel. It’s about how your users feel.

          3. Elia Freedman

            Email/password has been standard for 30 years. No one likes it but but so what? That’s the standard and people are comfortable with that.Just having any log in at all from any provider already turns people away. Not providing the Twitter-approved one will not turn them away even more.

          4. JimHirshfield

            OK. You win. I rest my case.

          5. Elia Freedman

            I’ll stop but one more comment:Given all that, I’m going to check up on it, though. As a developer I’m worried about giving up control of my product at critical points. If I use Facebook or Google to login, then I’ve given up control which means I can’t support those customers when they have problems logging in.The email/password thing sucks and if Twitter makes logging in a lot easier it is worth a look-see. I hope someone solves this and if it is Twitter, fine. But there’s a lot of mistrust there and Twitter has to be significantly better, not just good enough, to overcome the reputation they have earned.I’m done now. 🙂 Thanks for being on the other side.

          6. Donna Brewington White

            It is standard, but for some as a last resort if there is not a better alternative. If there is a better alternative, I’m prone to take it. FB is not a better alternative.And I don’t so much mind using email if a password is not also needed, and I don’t think I’m going on a mailing list.

          7. Elia Freedman

            Multiple choices are the worst as I can never remember which option I used the first time. I prefer email/password, myself, as then I have control over what I sign up for and how it interacts with my Facebook, Google, Twitter accounts. Usually companies have opt-out email newsletter options at least or I can leave the service. If it starts tweeting for me, though, I have no recourse except try to cancel.

        2. jason wright

          elephants remember

          1. Elia Freedman

            Yes, that’s one of them.

        3. Richard

          Platforms have had the upper-hand in the platform developer relationship. If twitter wanted to pull off a big win here, you would think they would pay developers to install digits and pay for each user that signs in via digits. (And I certainly wouldn’t charge developers to attend its developer conference.)

        4. Donna Brewington White

          That’s a big elephant.But why do I as a user/consumer sometimes sign in with FB (but only as a last resort — and if I am very interested in the app)?It’s expeditious to the goal at hand.

      2. Ahsan Sohail

        There may not be a way to access the phone number through an API call alone.I can see value in signing up with my phone number once, and then occasionally re-authenticating via 2 factor (instead of remembering a password).

    3. Donna Brewington White

      One good thing about using an email address is that it doesn’t have to be one you actively use. The less committed to the app, the less likely I’m giving my primary email address.

  12. JimHirshfield

    I think Google has a stronghold on enterprise single-sign on. Many companies use gmail, gdrive, etc and have a “corp account”. Our company has about 8 third-party apps that we use and the login of choice is Google, because we’re already logged in with our Google accounts.Personal is a different story. But Google’s come a long way.Here are some stats from about 2 years ago showing how people logged into Disqus. Most preferred to use a native Disqus account. But the data on other logins shows that Twitter was still a preferred choice over Google back then.

  13. pointsnfigures

    smart move on the phone number. everyone will have a social sec # and phone number someday. should be required at a voting booth.

  14. Semil Shah

    Of your final 4 points, I think #1 is the strongest (by far), and I hope people will go back and give them a second chance, b/c viral channels definitely need a shakeup.

  15. Mario Cantin

    I sign up for many services and I’m all over the map as far as which process I use, with the result that I quite often have to use the “forgot password?” option to gain subsequent access. For this reason, I still find that the best way for me, if I care about the service I’m signing up for, is to use email and to document the login and password in one master document. If I’m just trying a service, I tend to be more “carefree” and use whichever option that seems easiest and most related to the site or app I’m signing up for. The issue is I either need to use one solution for all signups from now on (hopefully the new Twitter SDK will be it), or find a better way to remember them all!

    1. bsoist

      Despite an excellent memory for characters and numbers, I use forgot password all the time – 3 times in the last 12 hours. I use a different password for everything, and using forgot password is part of my strategy for the higher security and/or infrequently used services.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Yes, I’m a regular user of that feature as well. What really irks me is that I type in my username or email address, then tab over to the password, wherein I realize I don’t remember it. Then I click the forgot password link and have to enter my email address all over again. Why hasn’t anyone figured out how to avoid that extraneous step (of email addy re-entry)!!!!?

        1. bsoist

          THAT is one of my biggest pet peeves! People have figured it out. Disqus has, no?

          1. JimHirshfield

            Good question. I’ve never forgotten my Disqus p/w. Job hazard if I did, ya know?

          2. bsoist

            🙂 hey, I have a Disqus related question I’d like to ask in private if you could email me.Not a complaint. I love Disqus. And the people who run it are so smart.

      2. Mario Cantin

        Ha ha! It is a feature after all. Why not?

  16. TADG

    what will you do with the phone numbers collected? How long will they be held? Where will they be held? and why do you need to hold them?

    1. fredwilson

      i am not twitteri am fred

      1. JimHirshfield

        A VC

  17. Jonathan Libov

    The 140 character edge of the wedge

  18. David Semeria

    But I assume there must still be a password, otherwise anybody could sign in with a given number…

    1. Emil Sotirov

      My question too…

    2. JimHirshfield

      Not on mobile. This has to be mobile only login with just your phone number. It’s the second-step of two-step authentication.

      1. JaredMermey

        So pulls phone number from OS and matches to that supplied to consumer?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Suppose so.

  19. Charlie Graham

    Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention, Fred. I’m a big fan of getting rid of passwords in general for most sites and think we need to move there sooner than later. To be effective, passwords need to be so obscure and long that they are difficult to create, almost impossible to memorize and certainly a big burden to keep track of.We did something similar to Fabric recently with our mobile app Shop It To Me where as of June you can sign in with an email address and no password. (You can read about it here http://www.iamcharliegraham… So far it has worked well and we have encouraged others to do the same. A phone number is definitely much easier to input and better for mobile-only apps than emails so kudos to the Digits team for making that improvement too. (We decided to do an email login instead of a mobile phone in our implementation as our service is delivered via email to most our members and we have both web and mobile apps and did not want to require them to have their phone with them the whole time). Nice job Twitter and thanks again for posting!

  20. Eric Friedman

    I agree with the huge opportunity here – unified login seems to have evaded so many large platform companies for so long and now it seems that mobile # might be a new darkhorse winner.

  21. Twain Twain

    I HATE the branding of “Fabric” and “Digits” and tweeted Jack Dorsey about that.I asked why it’s not called “Span” and ‘Primes”. From one of Twitter’s Global Developer Advocates, I found out that the meeting rooms are all named after bird types. Now they brand their first-ever developer conference “FLIGHT” and then they release ‘Fabric’ and ‘Digits’???!!!It just jars and smacks of inconsistency and incoherency.The Integrated Developer Environment should be branded ‘Span’ to reference and encompass the increase in wingspan of Twitter as it soars with the breadth and depth of developer contributions.The password replacement functionality should be branded “Primes” to be consistent with the PRIMARY FEATHERS on birds that are actually equivalent to their fingers/digits. Plus the term “Primes” has developer nerd connotations of being mathematical, crypto-secure and a unique number.Anyway, with developer hat on, I’m not persuaded by ‘Fabric’ and ‘Digits’ as tools. I would like Bootstrap if I hadn’t had to wrangle with trying to find obscure geometric css that’s not easy to find because Twitter team decided to wrap the text rather than layout the css in convenient use blocks like Xcode.I’m waiting for Apple Watchkit release next month and will be hacking for that.

    1. Twain Twain

      ‘Fabric’ is the brand name of an IDE I’d expect from FAB or Pinterest — not Twitter.

  22. William Mougayar

    That’s a good strategy apparently for entering China, because developers can use these tools even if they aren’t yet on Twitter.”Twitter’s Developer Tools Put Company Deeper Into China” in other news Mark Zuckerberg has been charming China by speaking fluently in Manderin in a recent interview. Facebook is banned in China.

    1. Twain Twain

      The Chinese have 0 reason to adopt Twitter when Weibo is so much better.*…*…Mark Zuckerberg is married to the AMAZING Priscilla Chan. In her interview:*…we see into how she pushed Zuckerberg (at 2:20 into the video):”I started noticing he was sharing my stories with our friends. And at work. And I said, “Wait a minute…those are MY experiences. If you want those stories, YOU EARN THEM. And you need those experiences to help guide what we’re doing in terms of change in the bigger sense.”That’s how Zuckerberg became an after-school teacher and more deeply involved with investing in education.He, of course, committed to learning Mandarin so that he could communicate with his wife’s family who didn’t speak English when they arrived in the States as immigrants.

  23. bobmonsour

    I’ve been working on a content-based web app I initially planned to provide Facebook and Google+ login in addition to email/password. I left Twitter out due to it’s inability to provide me with the user’s email address. I don’t expect my site to be a destination where people have to think about it to come. I need to be able to engage with my visitors via email to provide periodic notices of newly available content.And while I was enticed by a lot of what you described here Fred, here are some thoughts on my very brief look at the Fabric info:1. I do like the ability to embed Tweets and other functionality with a native feel.2. The marketing docs say “And now certain apps will be able to ask their users for permission to share their email address with you.” Certain apps? I didn’t dig enough to find out what that means, but it doesn’t sound very good.3. When you click on Get Started with Fabric, you’re immediately asked for your Full Name and email address. Odd.4. I’m not sold on phone number as identity. For me, giving up my email address to an app tells the app that I’m ok with getting email from them. My concern about giving up my phone number is that it feels like I’m allowing them to send me text messages…the last thing I want from am app (perhaps this is generational…closing in on 60).For now, I’m sticking with my plan to only offer email/password login. For my target audience, I think this is the right thing (BTW, if you play tennis and hit with a one-handed backhand, here’s what’s coming:

    1. bsoist

      I don’t like the extra step ( see my other comment ), but you could ask the user for an email address on the first sign-in. Then you have it, and your user still has the benefit of not having to remember a password for your site.

  24. Cookie Marenco

    Facebook sign in.. never again (burned once long ago and that was enough). Email sign-in always first choice. If no email sign-in, I will sign in with Twitter. If no email or twitter sign in, I won’t use the service. Phone sign in.. highly doubtful.

  25. RichardF

    don’t see it happening sorry, your mobile number is even more personal than your email, no way I’m handing that over to Twitter

    1. JimHirshfield

      What about fingerprints and retina scans?

      1. RichardF

        The use case and the way it is used is different I think.

      2. kidmercury

        the problem with all these “lightweight” services — build somethign very easy to adopt and manage and then builld a huge network around that — is that you are never offering the user enough to earn their respect to your authority. google gives us so much and for many of us has not violated our trust. we may be wary, but we are grateful, and in light of the situation and the trends, willing to trust.twitter hasn’t offered us nearly as much. the trust, as others have noted, has been violated more severely with critical segments (developers).if they can find a way to share money with developers, and give users a truly full-fledged product that is not defined by its lightweightedness (and corresponding reliance on aggregating social behavior), they will have the trust to compete with the fingerprints and retina stuff that apple, google, the government, and possibly facebook and amazon can demand.

        1. RichardF

          Absofuckinglutely bang on the money 😉

        2. JimHirshfield

          well said.

  26. Ptaco

    Way back in 2005, Cellfire launched as a mobile coupon provider that only asked for your phone number and DOB. We pivoted later to digital grocery coupons and allowed people to “login” using that mobile number and DOB. We encountered quite a few “Hell will freeze over before I give you my mobile phone number,” but when we went to change to email/password, we found that people overwhelmingly did not mind using their mobile phone number so we never changed it. People seemed to accept the mobile number as an ID and Cellfire still uses it, even though mobile usage is a minority.Fast forward nine years and Fabric sounds like it will be capitalizing on that trend, so based on this one practical example, I believe it will gain significant traction going forward.

  27. Alan Warms

    Really impressed with announcements yesterday. Like Gretzky, they are skating to where the puck is going, not where it is. I think there’s a lot more they can in this area from an app dev perspective and I love the privacy, lightweight requirements on users.

  28. falicon

    I’m a MASSIVE Twitter fanboy…and I build ‘sign in with Twitter’ into A LOT of my hacks…but that being said, Twitter’s got a serious trust challenge to overcome with developers before this can become more mainstream.Biz’s book does the best job yet of explaining the why/how Twitter backed into the API and developer problems…and I do believe they’ve always tried to do what’s right around this stuff…but the results are still what they are…developers are weary of Twitter…the incentives have to be 3x (maybe more) of ‘not offering Twitter’ before serious adoption will happen….I for one, am hoping it happens though…

    1. JimHirshfield

      Good point, you make, as have others in this thread on the trust issue.But there’s a radical difference between building an app on the Twitter backbone (which Twitter then went and built themselves) versus just using Twitter as part of an easy login. No?

      1. falicon

        Using Twitter (or facebook or google or X) for account creation and log in is all about tapping into a user base that is larger and more established than your own…and lowering friction for new users (to you) to create accounts and use your stuff…so yes.However – these days ‘everyone’ has Facebook, ‘everyone’ has a Google account, ‘lots’ have Twitter accounts…so when evaluating which service to hitch your service to, it’s not as much about the numbers they can bring anymore…now it’s about the softer things like ‘trust’ and ‘lifetime cost in providing/supporting this’…on those fronts right now Google and Facebook have a better history and story.Side note: the phone number bit of all of this brings up a lot of other concerns people are mentioning throughout the comments; I think they can overcome all of this, but on the surface it *feels* like death by a thousand paper cuts out of the gate…

  29. Kirsten Lambertsen

    This is great news to me. I never use the Facebook join/signin option and I would really really rather not use the Google option (cuz my Google accounts situation is so fubar, among other reasons). I *hate* it when Facebook is the *only* signup option – I often leave if that’s the case.If I could register/login for everything with my Twitter creds, that’s what I’d do. Twitter is where I live my ‘public’ life, and so I’m comfortable sharing it with other apps.All that said, from a developer standpoint, @falicon is dope. Hopefully, user demand/response will overcome that situation.

    1. falicon

      +100 for obvious reasons 🙂

  30. lauraglu

    Email is still the best way to communicate with users with regards to announcements, news, offers, contests, feature updates, etc.I have no idea why any investor would advise a company only get phone numbers and not email addresses when creating an app-based product.

  31. awaldstein

    Big fan and user of Twitter.Not so excited at this new development as honestly, the market is still Facebook heavy for almost all segments.No one loves Facebook but everyone is there.Many love Twitter, but its always been one sided with no personal connection to the market.Brilliant capability, horrid sense of what marketing is.Where is the Twitter person answering the questions being posed on this blog?



      1. grimlock7003


  32. LIAD

    I find the strategy interesting and am curious whether it was all planned or as is more likely just part of the fog of war.Act 1: cosy up to developers. get them to all build on the platform leverage them for distribution and growth.Act 2: push all the developers under a bus. arguing for holistic UI and UX experience for all users and platformsAct 3: establish dominance. IPO.Act 4: cosy up to developers again.

    1. falicon

      part of the fog of war…Biz actually gives a really clear explanation of how/why that all happened in his book (… )

    2. David Semeria

      Bang on London boy. That’s exactly the issue.Fooled me once, etc

  33. MikeSchinkel

    I’ve always preferred Twitter’s Social Sign On to Facebook or Google. I just logged into Disqus using Twitter to post this. I wish it had more traction.Not sure I’m as plussed by Digits though. While I’ll post a lot online I don’t like to give our my phone number to just anyone and while I expect that Digits won’t share it with those where you sign in I bet a lot of tech-luddites will not understand that.Also, having to type in a confirmation code is rather annoying when I have to do it so wouldn’t want doing it to become a standard.Lastly, I have multiple personas that I use online — me personally, me as president of my company, me as representative for each of my large clients, etc. — but I only have one phone number. How would that work?

  34. MacLane Wilkison

    Social login is great and all but what the Internet needs is a global, verifiable identity register. Preferably one in which users own their account/identity rather than a company. Non-transferable Proof of Identity on the blockchain, perhaps.

  35. Vasu Prathipati

    what did Twitter do to believe that people are willing to share their phone #? That is the most personal information I bet….it definitely is easier to insert your # though.



    1. Maggieheyoka

      Grimlock if my god oops employer uses my personal cell phone number for work number because it “asks” me to BYOD is my phone number my data or theirs?



  38. Tejaswi Nadahalli

    I have changed my phone number 10 times since 2004, but have changed my email address 0 times.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m the exact opposite

  39. OldManGoldenwords

    having lived in 3 countries in 5 years only thing that has not changed is email. Email is same for last 10 years. Why would there be mass acceptance to not use free email and instead use phone number and get struck with phone contract with bureaucratic unless you want to help big brother like NSA.

  40. JamesHRH

    Way more interesting topic…..why are you only giving out advice to mobile?

  41. Nick Devane

    We recently launched a beta of a mobile app and foolishly required facebook login on that initial version. The thing that astonished me was how many close friends, who have facebook, were unwilling to login with it. Despite being interest in testing out what we’d built, it was a no go. Very telling of how far their authorization/trust has fallen with my demographic.I wonder how an ‘ello’ login would do? :)It is amazing to me that no one has successfully productized the login. A service that would require multi-factor authorization to join, but would pass only a unique identifier to apps. This could be accomplished with block-chain. Effectively allow joining endless amount of services free of concern over spam.

  42. The President (Just Kidding)


    1. The President (Just Kidding)


  43. falicon

    Twitter is too powerful to the ‘common man’ to disappear at this point…the business side of things might go up and down for a bit still, but the genie is out of the box on the power of Twitter (and it’s network effects ensure it’s here to stay).

  44. JimHirshfield

    Yeah, I get that. Devil’s in the details.

  45. JimHirshfield

    Cool. Thanks.