While it's not a certainty, but the life expectancy of most of Twitter's 3rd party clients may be short-lived, based on Twitter's recent moratorium on new API builds by developers. Ryan Sarver, director of platform published an official decree stating that when "developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer experience. The answer is no."
Ryan SarverThe rationale according to Sarver is that since 90 percent of Twitter's active users use Twitter's official apps, the microblogging site wants to keep tighter control. They will however continue to support analytical packages that brings value to the user experience, but feel that mainstream members of the Twitterati are confused by the different interfaces, particularly on mobile devices.
This was Twitter's motivation for acquiring Tweetie last April and developing their own official iPhone app. "It is the reason why we have developed official apps for the Mac, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and worked with RIM on their Twitter for Blackberry App," Sarver adds.
This apparently is knocking out the popular ÜberTwitter app and its Blackberry platform. In February, Twitter announced it had suspended the app for "violating the company's API policies" shocking many in the Twitter community
Laura FittonOf course, OneForty, the Apple store for Twitter apps, developed by Laura Fitton did not take kindly to the news. Quoted in a ReadWriteWeb report, she stated, "a consistent user experience is exactly the wrong direction to go in. Twitter needs diverse-only experiences if it's going to continue to grow - a monoculture would stifle it growth - that would be like saying all websites should look the same."
The report went on further to say that "Tweetdeck had better watch its back - all those Tweetdeck columns, loved by power users, are awfully confusing by mainstream users anyway."
Noted in a PCMAg report, Lance Ulanoff stated, "what is to stop Twitter from going forward after services that use part or all of the Twitter name - does anyone think that TwitPic is safe?"
And what about geo-location apps? In an article I wrote back in January, 2010, titled "Twitter & GeoAPI's Great Land Rush of 2010," I focused on the emerging popularity of location-based social networks (a la Foursquare) and predicted that with Twitter's acquisition of Mixer Labs and GeoAPI, there was a big question mark whether Twitter would continue to work with 3rd party clients that focused on "location" apps. This was Twitter's largest acquisition to date, and it appeared to me that this was the first sign of Twitter taking app developed in-house.
The irony here is not lost. Twitter appears to be closing down relationships that just a short few years ago it was wooing to help it grow its user-base. Facebook and Google continue to use 3rd party app development and even conduct annual development conferences to motivate more developers to join and add to the growth of their respective companies.
Did Twitter become to big for its own britches - or does there come a time when a successful Internet enterprise can go it alone - and rely on its own internal infrastructure to innovate and develop enhancements for the future?
Love to hear from the development community on this? Please weigh in with your comments.