When Jack Dorsey set about creating Twitter in 2006, one function of his new social service presented him with a quandary: how long should the short, shareable messages be?
Inspiration came from SMS text messages: we coped perfectly well with 160 characters for several decades, thought Dorsey, so best stick to this hassle-free model. Thus we got 140 characters for our Tweets and 20 characters for user name.
And now, with Twitter struggling to bring in new users and floundering to come up with a stable money-making model, they might be about to offer a new, long-form model.
Tech site Re/Code has word from "multiple people familiar with the company's plans" that Twitter is looking to launch a new product that will host messages longer than 140 characters.
Twitter has long been tweaking its systems to help users get the most out of their 140 characters - recently removing the limit from direct messages (and causing a legal upset in the process), removing long links from the count and allowing Retweets to quote both the original Tweet and add comment. All helpful additions, but none of them have brought a flood of new users.
Dorsey is currently serving as the company's interim CEO (after Dick Costolo stepped down in June following poor growth), and appears keen to press on with bold changes.
"People have been very precious at Twitter about what Twitter can be and how much it can be evolved," said one current senior employee to Re/Code. "Having Jack come in and say it’s okay makes all the difference in the world."
Would you make more use of Twitter if there wasn't a 140 character limit? Or would you be keen for a new platform that allowed longer pieces of content to be shared?
Let us know your thoughts.