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Why Twitter Should Resist Apple

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Take a close look at the tech headlines today, Fools. Amid the oohs and aahs associated with rumors that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) will bid $700 million in cash for Twitter, you'll notice a common hysteria -- a hype machine that's so very Silicon Valley.

"If these discussions are happening, Twitter is keeping them very quiet indeed," wrote Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. "We would have passed on reporting this rumor at all, but other press is now picking it up."

Exactly. If it bleeds, it leads? Nope. In Silicon Valley, if it tweets, it leads. Because Twitter, you see, is The Next Big Thing.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge believer in Twitter. Where naysayers see text-messaging gone wild, I see a conversational intelligence engine that could legitimately command a billion-dollar valuation.

So the trouble with today's reporting from TechCrunch, Valleywag, and even BusinessWeek isn't that it overhypes Twitter -- I won't cast stones at fellow writers for something of which I am guilty -- but that it fails to address the question that matters most.

How would Apple improve Twitter?
We know the answer for every other proposed suitor. Facebook would make Twitter more conversational. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) would add network bench strength and advertising muscle. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) would ... well, OK, we don't know if or how Microsoft planned to improve Twitter.

We don't know how Apple would improve the service, either. Yeah, I know, a lot of iPhone owners seem to use Twitter. A lot of iPhone software uses Twitter in some form. All of that is accomplished via Twitter's very open programming interface, or API. Would having Apple control that interface really make Twitter better? I have serious doubts.

There's one area in which I could see Apple and Twitter cooperating: iPhone commerce. Apple would extend the Twitter API so that you could buy songs or get movies directly from a link in Twitter, and at the same time stick it to Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) .

Yet Apple needn't spend $700 million to cooperate on development. And there are already services that come close to replicating the Twitter-iTunes dance described above. TwitTunes, for example, allows users to broadcast their tunes to their tweetstream. Add a "buy this song" link, and you have tweetcommerce.

That would be insanely great, and worthy of Apple. Anything less would be a waste of money and talent.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and positions in Apple and Google and a stock position in Nokia at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is tweeting like the wind.

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