Twitter takes on Facebook and Google+ with focus on profiles

GigaOM's user profile page in Twitter's redesign (click to enlarge)

Profile pages weren’t ignored in the large-scale redesign Twitter unveiled Thursday. In fact, the company is now trumpeting itself as a better option than Facebook or Google+ when it comes to showing the world who you are through an online profile.

“This is the best place to represent yourself on the Internet,” Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said of Twitter’s individual profile pages during the company’s press event in San Francisco Thursday morning.

Why should people direct their focus to maintaining their Twitter profiles when a number of other services — Facebook, Google+(s GOOG) and LinkedIn(s LNKD) to name just a few — are vying to be the top place for people to establish their identities online? According to Dorsey, it’s all about simplicity. “For me, it’s really just access. You just have to share a username or hashtag” for other people to know exactly how to find you on the site, with minimal searching and sorting necessary, he said during the Q&A portion of the press event.

He also said Twitter, which from the start could be used on any mobile device with SMS capabilities, is more readily accessible on a global basis than many other more fully featured social networking sites. “Twitter is approachable, and not just on the web. It works with the weakest signals and the cheapest devices,” Dorsey said. “People can use Twitter on the cheapest, $20 cellphone in Baghdad, Iraq. There’s no other service that enables them to do that.”

Those certainly seem like fighting words, and indeed Twitter is showing no signs from backing down in its push for global growth and web dominance. The company currently has 700 full-time employees and has room at its new San Francisco headquarters to hold “thousands of people,” CEO Dick Costolo said during the press event Thursday. Users and engagement has boomed in 2011 and revenue is growing “apace” with that, he said.

If anything is clear now, it’s that Twitter is going big: Costolo even pointed to the fact that the world’s population recently hit 7 billion as a benchmark for how much growth potential he sees ahead of the service, and he and Dorsey noted that the most influential quotations attributed to the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have fewer than 140 characters.  For the past six months, the media has generally painted the fight for the social web crown as taking place between Facebook and Google — but now, Twitter is making it clear its ambitions are as large as anyone’s.