Twitter has dropped a bomb in the middle of its ecosystem, basically telling the developer community to not build any other Twitter clients:
Ryan Sarver, consistency and ecosystem opportunities
*The Opportunity for Developers*
Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter. More specifically, developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.
If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you do not violate users’ privacy, that you provide consistency in the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of Service. We have spoken with the major client applications in the Twitter ecosystem about these needs on an ongoing basis, and will continue to ensure a high bar is maintained.
As we point out above, 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. According to our data, 90% of active Twitter users use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis.
In contrast, the number of successful applications and companies in the Twitter ecosystem that focus on areas outside of the mainstream consumer client experience has grown quickly, and this is a trend we want to continue to support and help grow. Twitter will always be a platform on which a smart developer with a great idea and some cool technology can build a great company of his or her own. And, with record user growth, there has never been a better time to build into Twitter.
Oh yes, it’s never been a better time. So long as you don’t operate in what Fred Wilson called ‘holes’ in his Twitter Platform’s Inflection Point post, where he said that Twitter would fill those holes, and others should get out of them. My take then was that that Twitter would want to make their own clients in order to make them faster and more reliable, but they would grandfather the few big client vendors to avoid pissing off a lot of users.
The questions is what if they make their own analytics tools, and then want to squeeze out the innovative folks working in that area? Perhaps they might acquire Radian6, and then chase away all new innovators?
Update 12 March 7:30am — I thought the title of this Engadget piece was so great I had to repost it here:
[…] it’s incredibly interesting — and frankly, disheartening — to see a Web 2.0 company making such an un-Web 2.0 move. Of course, this could all be part of Twitter’s plans to eventually monetize the service, but for now we’ll have to take the company at its word, even if that means our choice of clients becomes a little less diverse in the future.
“At some point, every company gets taken over by conniving business assholes, even the ones you love.” — Joe Hewitt
- Twitter Drops The Ecosystem Hammer: Don’t Try To Compete With Us On Clients, Focus On Data And Verticals (techcrunch.com)
- Twitter tells developers to stop developing new Twitter clients (thenextweb.com)
- Twitter Says Third-Party Developers Shouldn’t Build Twitter Clients (paidcontent.org)
- When Twitter Eats Its Young: Social Network Suspends Numerous Clients (dayandadream.com)