While sitting in a packed room at SXSW yesterday watching Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO, announce the new @Anywhere (pronounced “At-Anywhere”) product coming out of twitter, something struck me: twitter just zigged when we all expected them to zag. This Texas Two-Step twitter is doing with the business world is getting more and more interesting. Here is why.

First let’s look at what @Anywhere is Twitter’s equivalent of Facebook Connect. They are providing a global ID/authentication system, more robust than their existing OAuth options, and a basic set of tools to extend twitter functionality into your websites (think XFBML). So now you can offer a twitter login option (like fb connect, openID, google connect, etc etc etc), and tie in tools to your site to let people get extended twitter info about pieces of content/people on your site. I imagine it will be extended to other functionality, and people will take to the platform much like the API.

Now let’s look at the name, “At Anywhere,” all the rumors were that Twitter was rolling out an advertising system, or an AD system. Clever move there Twitter, deflecting attention as to what you’re truly doing. Twitter is making it seem like they are giving us this universal ID, and clever set of tools. What’re we giving twitter? DATA. Wu-Tang clan would take this opportunity to tell us its all a D.R.E.A.M. Data rules everything around me. Because we are moving into the “Data Era,” the winner is going to be the one with the most data on us.

This is a long term behavioral play. Just like Facebook Connect is a behavioral play as well. There is this pervasive ideas that if you get enough data on people’s behaviors & interests on the web you can build out this magical ad system on top of it. This magical ad system will be so freaking amazing that it makes every banner garner 100% click-thru-rates and generate trillions in revenue. Anyway, not gonna get into that discussion, but suffice it to say, I believe we’ll see some behavioral ad system coming out of twitter in the next 6 months.

So in conclusion, should you be following this? Yeah. Only if you’re considering Facebook Connect as an option for your website.