What are Twitter Cards, exactly?
In effect, they are the technology behind expanded, multimedia-rich tweets. With the addition of a few lines of code, publishers, brands and developers can create better tweets showcasing their content inside of the Twitter stream.
The rest of the article is really interesting. It may be part conjecture, but I can see how Twitter wants to move towards a walled garden approach and enforce visual consistency to its platform
The majority of usage comes from twitter.com and its official apps anyways so pissing off developers won’t affect its bottom line much. And — reorienting the concept of a tweet from 140 characters to 140 characters + photos OR videos OR snippets can only help with monetization. It may appeal less to the technorati and the old school users who long for the simplicity of Twitter’s SMS roots, but I see this as Twitter making it’s move from a communications app to a media/consumption portal. (I wonder if that’s the path to all consumer content companies on the web?)
Historically, the ratio of users who tweet vs consuming tweets have been crazy lopsided, so the cards feature is just a natural product recognition of the user behavior. (Side note on whether product design should lead or follow users is for another time.)
Oh and the concept of ‘cards’ feels very much like the Tumblr Dashboard to me, if only more complicated philosophically.