When the first web browsers came out, most of the resources weren’t on the web. HTML files, hypertext sets of links, would point to resources on Gopher servers, or more often, FTP servers. The existing network of FTP indexing and search tools got HTML front ends, and the web evolved. Critics realized that there was nothing new, HTTP instead of FTP just made it stateless without logins.
Now a shopping service has created a Twitter service where you send them a message, and they find what you are looking for and tell you. Reuters considers this an innovative business. You can obviously use the Website, IMshopping.com, but there is nothing magical about the Twitter connection? There is no reason that you can’t SMS them, Twitter them, Instant Message them, or email them. In fact, over a decade ago, those of us without direct Internet access could FTP via email. There were gateways where you could email a request and you would get a response, and using UUCP Email Gateways, those of us with daily email connections could get files… it just would take a few days with one directory listing every two days (day 1, request a directory, email went out that night, the response came back after the connection, so on night 2 you got the response).
The Twitter API makes it easy for you to integrate, both sending and receiving messages via Twitter. There isn’t any reason that it’s easier for users to Twitter you, but for people on Twitter all the time, I guess opening a web browser is now an inconvenience.
Twitter isn’t a technologically interesting system, but it sure is a clever social phenomenon. If you have a web business and you aren’t harnessing Twitter, you’re missing a source of traffic.