The Verge has a great peace on Twitter’s recent comments that it will be cracking down, so to speak, on applications using Twitter’s API to “mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience” – aka, third party clients such as a Twitterrific, Tweetbot (which is my personal favorite), Plume, MetroTwit, and more.
Read more about Twitter and third party clients after the break.
All of this comes from a subtle, but frighteningly titled post on Twitter’s official development blog, “Delivering a consistent Twitter experience.” Essentially, what The Verge is arguing is that Twitter wants to become a full-on forerunner in digital media, similar to Facebook. Such a strategy would essentially require usage of Twitter’s official website and clients in order to be guaranteed access to these potential new features, and there are so many users of third party clients out there that Twitter’s potential user base for these new features is considerably smaller if it doesn’t do something about it.
Another reason it doesn’t make sense for third party clients to exist, in Twitter’s head, is advertising. Simply put, Twitter is not an extremely profitable company, despite being the second most widely used social media application on the web today. The majority of it’s profits presumably come from it’s in-stream advertisements. Third party Twitter clients, at the moment, can get away with not showing these advertisements – it’s actually a huge selling point for most paid-for clients, such as Tweetbot. All of these users using these ad-free third party clients are lost potential advertising for Twitter, and therefor a loss of revenue. In Twitter’s mind, it probably doesn’t make economic sense for the company to keep them around.
What Twitter doesn’t seem to have that big of a grasp on is how, lacking a better word, fanatic users of these clients are. I personally have almost never used an official Twitter client, nor Twitter’s official website, to use the service. Since joining Twitter in early 2008, I have used Twitterrific, TweetDeck, Tweetie, Hahlo, Osfoora, Lounge, Plume, Spaz, MetroTwit, and most recently Tweetbot as my primary client on multiple different platforms. There are probably more, but my poor memory has faded over time. People like me are the type of people who rely on these products to use Twitter’s service, who have been there since before Twitter was a word said on the television, on movies, on advertisements. We are the type of people who will leave Twitter if it comes to it, even though we’ve called Twitter our home for so long. We’re the early adopters, and if there should be one rule in hollywood, it should be the same rule on the web – never forget where you came from, or how you got there.
Unfortunately, early adopters almost always get screwed in the end.