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12/9/2010
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Twitter Expands Places Dataset

Partnership with services including TomTom, Zagat, and Gowalla allows users to tweet about more locations.

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Twitter has improved the usability of Places by letting developers access an expanded database of location information from providers such as TomTom, Gowalla, Zagat, and Open Table.

The move comes after users began requesting the ability to tweet about different places, ranging from businesses, to neighborhoods, to local parks, said Matt Harris, developer and advocate at Twitter, in an application programming interface (API) announcement on Wednesday.

"We have been working with a number of partners to grow our dataset of places to make it easier for you to build great Twitter experiences around places, and offer more place choices to users. These partnerships serve as a foundation for a number of exciting features we have planned to help users find what's new in their area and around the world," he said.

To use the large dataset, Twitter created an index that combines different partners' ID sets into one. As a result, Twitter accountholders can use the IDs from a partner's dataset when they are looking for Twitter Search to find tweets about a specific place, said Harris.

To boost the power of Twitter Places, Twitter partnered with companies including: A&E Television Networks and History, Apontador, CityGrid Media, DotMenu/Allmenus, Gowalla, Infogroup, Localeze, Maponics, OpenTable, TomTom, Wcities, Yellow Pages Group (Canada), and Zagat, according to Twitter.

Twitter introduced Places on June 14, after first dipping its toe into the location waters with the earlier rollout of tags that allowed users to share their general location, such as a city or neighborhood. At the time it debuted Places, Twitter teamed-up with TomTom and Localeze, two of the partners in the most recently unveiled location efforts.

The geo-location market is still in its infancy, and several developers -- such as Facebook Places, Gowalla, Foursquare, and Yelp -- are competing for market share and dominance. Facebook Places is widely viewed as the top player today, followed by Foursquare. But only about 4% of online Americans use location services today, according to a November 2010 report by Pew Research Center. On any given day, about 1% of Internet users are taking advantage of these services, the center's Internet & American Life project found.

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