Twitter is getting into the online shopping business--or at least pointing to places where deals can be had.
The company's new service, aptly named @earlybird, is an official Twitter account that the company plans to feed with deals at both online and offline retailers, as well as "sneak peeks and events." Users who follow the account will see these entries just like any other tweet in their stream.
While it might seem to be a minor offering, @earlybird is notable in that Twitter plans to monetize it. The company is partnering with companies to provide the deals, and from the rather nebulous language on the @earlybird explanation page, those companies are either paying Twitter for placement on the account or they're giving Twitter a kickback on any traffic or deal-takers that come their way as a result. Assuming this goes well, the company could spread into other areas, including accounts for books, music, movies, and TV shows.
Besides its deals with partner sites, Twitter is encouraging users to send in companies and events they think the company should work with, though this doesn't mean users should send in deals they've found around the Web.
Twitter says @earlybird will start with big brands that can be found around the world, but that the service could expand to cover smaller, local companies. Presumably these businesses would one day be able to take advantage of Twitter's geo features, so that users could subscribe only to the deals for their area--akin to location-specific deals sites like Groupon, Livingsocial, and Tippr.