According to Ars Technica, Twitter sent its third-party developers one hell of a breakup letter, stating in no uncertain terms that they needed to quit building client apps.
“We need to move to a less fragmented world, where every user can experience Twitter in a consistent way. This is already happening organically–the number and market share of consumer client apps that are not owned or operated by Twitter has been shrinking. . .”
writes Ryan Sarver, Twitter platform team member.
Ok, I’ll go with it. At least, until Ars Technica mentions this:
“[Sarver] contends that over 90 percent of Twitter’s audience is now using a client built by the company rather than a third-party offering such as TweetDeck or Seesmic.”
I don’t know about Sarver, but if 90% of my users were already on the company-developed platform, I wouldn’t be calling that a fragmented market. In fact, I’d be wielding so much market power I wouldn’t need to write a letter telling developers to quit. It would be pointless for them to continue, because owning 90% of a market pretty much screams established monopoly.
So, what’s Twitter’s real motivation behind the announcement? According to the article, in addition to the not-so-polite dev cease and desist, there’s an overhaul of their TOS, beefing up the restrictions to playing on its playground:
“The changes to the terms of service that were introduced today prevent third-party developers from displaying data from alternate services alongside data from Twitter’s APIs. The intention is to block developers from presenting their own trending topics or follower recommendations in Twitter client applications. Sarver hints that more significant changes could come in the future, possibly including limits on what words applications use to describe features.”
My guess? Ads.
Twitter has been playing with promoted (paid) topics and accounts, right? And it would be a really big inconvenience for Twitter if the guys who made Tweetcaster, Tweetdeck, and all the other clients wanted to play that game, too.
Rather than just come out and say that (because nobody likes a company that’s interested in making money), Twitter spins the story.
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