How Twitter is preparing for its big iOS debut

Twitter VP of Engineering Michael Abbott at Mobilize 2011It’s shaping up to be a busy autumn for Twitter. The company’s microblogging service will be integrated into the next version of Apple’s iOS operating system, which is set to roll out at the big Apple event slated for October 4.┬áSo is Twitter in complete panic mode preparing for the coming onslaught of traffic? According to the company’s engineering VP Michael Abbott, not so much.

“iOS is not something we have to brace for,” Abbott said in an on-stage conversation with Om Malik on Tuesday, day two of GigaOM’s Mobilize 2011 conference. That’s because Twitter has already done so much recent work to bolster its load capacity.

“During the last nine months, there’s been more infrastructure changes at Twitter than there had been in the previous five years at the company,” said Abbott, who joined Twitter in May 2010. “So that whether it be the death of bin Laden, or someone announces a pregnancy, we can handle those issues and you’re not seeing a fail whale.”

That’s not to say that Twitter does not expect the Apple integration to be a big deal. “I anticipate a lot of growth because [Twitter] is going to be on every iOS device. And certainly there’s a good number of those out there in the world,” Abbott said. “It’s going to result in more Tweets.”

It’s just that Twitter has already had a lot of experience dealing with fast growth, particularly over the past year. The company is now processing more than 230 million Tweets per day; last summer, that number was only at about 60 million Tweets per day. And a solid portion of those messages — about 45 percent — come from a mobile device, Abbott said. Coming up with ways to cope with that load means that the company should be pretty well prepared when Apple’s iOS 5 launches with the Twitter integration built in.

Despite all the big changes in its traffic numbers, Twitter has no plans to make changes to its basic service. “We have been and continue to be very focused on that simplified experience of Twitter. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve seen the growth,” Abbott said. “People get it, so people use it.”

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