Twitter March 15 unveiled @anywhere, a service that will extend much of the functionality of its successful microblogging platform to third-party sites such as Amazon.com, Microsoft Bing, Digg and eBay.
As the name implies, @anywhere comprises a set of frameworks for adding the Twitter experience -- sending tweets, retweets and following users -- to any Website without shuttling users directly to Twitter.com.
Twitter has attracted heavy hitters in the digital world to @anywhere. Initial participants include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, Yahoo, and YouTube.
"When we're ready to launch, imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo home page -- and that's just the beginning," Stone wrote.
Yahoo said it will use @anywhere to let "users authorize Twitter data sharing with their Yahoo ID in a way that empowers them to consume their Twitter feeds on Yahoo and to share Yahoo content to Twitter."
Stone's fellow co-founder Evan Williams introduced the service at the South by Southwest (SXSW) show Monday afternoon, prompting disappointment and apathy from many attendees who expected Williams to discuss Twitter's long-awaited advertising platform.
One thing that shouldn't be overlooked is how @anywhere resembles Facebook Connect, the service for letting users log into Websites using their Facebook credentials. More than 80,000 sites are using Facebook Connect, making the platform a certified hit.
Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray agreed that @anywhere is much like Facebook Connect because it permits sites to add social elements that leverage the content and networks that already exist on Twitter.
However, Ray thinks @anywhere may offer sites a somewhat different value proposition than does Facebook Connect.
"For example, while both permit easy sharing of content to one's networks, Twitter @anywhere seems poised to do more distribution of content across the Web. A lot of details remain to be revealed, but it seems Twitter is interesting in engaging people where they surf, not just on Twitter.com or in Twitter clients.
"The idea of allowing people to access relevant, real-time information from the Twitter network wherever they surf is a bit different than I've seen done with Facebook Connect, and it promises to open up the Twitter experience to people who as of yet may not have seen a reason to visit, register and participate."