Seems like UberMedia is considering biting the hand that feeds it:
UberMedia, which owns several popular applications that interface with Twitter, is outlining plans to build a social network that could compete with that popular microblogging platform, said three people who were briefed on the plans.
The service would seek to attract users by addressing common complaints about Twitter, such as its restriction on the length of a message and how it can be confusing to newcomers, according to these sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.
UberMedia is a leading developer of apps and Web-based services that help users communicate on Twitter and other social media platforms. The Pasadena, California-based company has amassed a small empire of apps — among them UberSocial, Echofon and Twidroyd — that connect to Twitter and offer features beyond Twitter’s own software.
Together, those UberMedia programs accounted for about 11.5% of tweets sent on one day last month, according to a study by market research firm Sysomos. UberSocial is the third most-popular way to send tweets, behind Twitter’s website and official iPhone app, the study found.
Twitter up to 1 billion tweets a week
TweetDeck is tied with Twitter’s own BlackBerry app as the fourth most-popular software for sending messages, Sysomos said. UberMedia is in talks to acquire TweetDeck, but that deal hasn’t been finalized, according to a person familiar with the matter. Industry website TechCrunch first reported on the talks.
“The audience for TweetDeck is very different” from the people who use Twitter’s official apps, Tony Haile, a general manager for Betaworks, said a year ago. The technology incubator is where TweetDeck started. “We never competed on core functionality.”
Correction: TweetDeck wasn’t incubated at Betaworks, as is the case with many other Betaworks’ companies. It was starting idependently by Ian Dodsworth, the company’s CEO, and Betaworks invested later on.
One interesting angle that isn’t touched upon in this piece are other attempts to wrest control of the Twittersphere away from Twitter, only mentioning previous — now dormant — competitor Jaiku. And no mention of Pownce: now totally forgotten?
Consider Diaspora, the start-up kicked off on kick starter with $200,000 by a bunch of NYU students. Not setting the world on fire. Or Identi.ca, based on the StatusNet technology. Not a hot property. People are using Twitter because that’s where the people are, or because they never heard of the alternatives.
Of course, if UberMedia wants to advertise an alternative backplane for its tools, some proportion of the Twitter community would be aware of an alternative, but that doesn’t solve the chicken-and-egg problem: people will stay with their network, all things being equal.
So UberMedia would have to build something so much better than Twitter that it is worthwhile to abandon your network, which would have to be an order of magnitude better. relaxing the 140 character limitation isn’t that, by a long shot (and I’m not sure it’s better anyway).
This sounds like a crazy plan to me, maybe born of desperation out of Twitter’s recent business moves — like announcing no new clients could get access to the Twitter API. Perhaps UberMedia is worried that the business for Twitter clients has a dramatically shorter half life than when they got into it.