Twitter is shooting itself in the foot: key bits of evidence, such as a blog post on the Twitter dev blog (linked below), the now-tarnished LinkedIn deal, the latest app/web updates and more all point to the same disturbing news.
Twitter is making the same mistake that MySpace and Digg made before their services took a turn for the worse as far as userbase goes: closing the API in an attempt to force ad clicks.
But there are a number of problems with this approach, which this article aims to analyze.
The evidence is far from speculative. This blog post on the Twitter dev site pretty much lays it all out under the euphemism of a “more consistent Twitter experience.”
In other words: Closing the API so users are forced to use the apps WE developed which actually push ads out instead of better-developed apps that don’t. Goodbye, choice.
Another strong hint lies within theTwitter web UI, Twitter iPad app and the latest Twitter iPhone update: gone is the “via [app]” text under tweets.
Twitter hiding the app names, which previously were a strong focus for app devs on their platform for identifying their apps in feeds and providing a little PR when big names use them, is a major move needless to say.
Recall Twitter’s Tweetie buyout, a move Chris Dixon (founder of Hunch) called “like a drunk guy waving an uzi” as far as Twitter scaring away other app developers in favor of their own solutions.
And the move doesn’t just target general users who use clients like Echofon and Tweetdeck, either: recall the widely-published LinkedIn fiasco where Twitter blatantly shut the professional-centric social network out of its platform.
Twitter is actively nuking both “active clients” (which users, well, use), services for publishing, and automated API pulls all the same though RSS is still there for simple read-only access.
This is far from the first time Twitter has tightened the reigns on their holy platform: forcing all tweets to proxy links via the t.co domain name for their own tracking (and eventual Analytics feature) is one such example.
The Flawed Goal
Digg and MySpace both made similar moves and failed, which CNN Money correlated in an article.
The goal is to drive ads to users more instead of allowing (often better-written) user-facing apps to serve the site’s contents without them due to the afterthought nature they’re inserted into feeds.
Instead, they’re simply going to piss off developers by cutting them out of the dev program altogether and users by nixing their apps with their custom settings and features.
Nothing is wrong with trying to further monetize the service in the competitive social sphere, but is killing the API – Twitter’s crowning feature – the right way to go about it, and at this moment? I hardly think so, it’s suicide.
Not everyone likes the stock Twitter apps/web UI as much as fancier custom apps that offer tweet scheduling, muting, built-in image service alternatives, and a myriad of other services.
And hurting the publishers too? One wonders what they’re smoking. Publishing apps are the #1 method of getting content onto Twitter that make it worth users’ while in the first place.
Removing clients other than their own ad-lined versions, nixing publishers’ automated API access (such as our own method of auto-tweeting new articles), it sounds like Twitter is basically committing platform suicide.
Nobody wants to use a platform where only ad-lined and un-innovative stock clients are the only access, and manual web UI use is the only publishing tactic.
Arguably, the API and variety of options as far as publishing and reading tweets is what drew people to the simple micro-blogging service in the first place, even with all that instability initially.
They may as well just redirect the twitter.com domain name to facebook.com as well, because they’d be driving more back to the already Twitter-competing social giant which focus on their own form of following updates more and more.
What do you think? Will your favorite apps be affected or are you okay with Twitter imploding? Let us know in the comments.
Mark is a "veteran" (and current) system administrator for a local IT firm in his hometown. He is notorious from his Coffee Desk days as the "funny guy" of the editorial staff, writing some pieces for sheer comic relief to the pleasure of many readers (example). Aside from his priceless humor, he has ample insight in the fields of networking and programming given his years of experience with them, often making quips about his own age in the process. Mark is the oldest member of the editors, and by far the most regular. Contributor, that is. :D