I don't know much about Twitter politics, but we've got:
- Developer hostility this week
- User hostility last week, with the dickbar
So maybe this is just how it goes now that Costolo is in charge. "Fuck the loyalists, we're here to make some money. Getting sick of these third party tools charging coin for our damn API while we get nothing."
If so, the question becomes: who creates more value on Twitter? Is it the old guard, who use it as a communications and community medium? Or is it the mainstream, following celebrities and talking about sandwiches they're eating, eyeballs to be sold to the highest bidder?
(edit: My hunch is that, too late, the Pareto principle will be discovered hard at work: 20% or less of Twitter users actually generate 80% of the value. I just can't see it as a bland, empty consumption tool. There's surely peril in optimizing toward that.)
It sounds to me like Twitter wants to round up its user-cattle and drive them on down to monetization gulch. Anyone who gets in the way of this is going to be flattened.
Uh, yeah. Is that really surprising? We're all being driven to Monetization Gulch to escape the absolutely fatal Winter of Unprofitability.
Your sarcastic grunting aside, it's utterly shocking. Imagine Google, circa 2001, with crass, interstitial banner ads between search and SERP. It would have destroyed them. The opportunity for heaps and heaps of money, gone in a single, vulgar puff of smoke.
Twitter has the opportunity to leverage a critical mass of enthusiastic users. This is a rare, golden gift.
Last time this happened, Facebook minted some billionaires while discovering a sustainable, user-virtuous business model. There were growing pains, especially with the early, spammy apps, but overall, Facebook has managed to balance the needs of a lot of people without screwing up the magic of their product.
The time before that, Google did the same thing.
Sadly, rather than pushing toward a business model that makes the most of the very impressive ecosystem they've cultivated, it looks as though they want to break down the most interesting portions of it and then find money in whatever turns out on the other side.
The lasting virtue of Twitter, to me, always seemed to be that it would always be whatever any given user needed it to be, thanks to the wealth of apps that dip into its API. If that goes away, Twitter's shelf life is curtailed.
To me, it seems nutty, and not terribly imaginative. Ask Digg: pissing off your core constituency so you can hopefully make money is not the same as actually making money.
So, after all this ranting about Twitter's change - what do you suggest they do to "actually make money?" Isn't that the end-game for every company? Is twitter even close to justifying their private valuations with revenue? I haven't seen anything from you that suggests an alternative approach that actually makes them more money, other than "don't do that."
You also previously mentioned that twitter has a rare golden gift of leveraging a critical mass of enthusiastic users.
My thoughts about that? Show me the money! So far, they aren't doing that.
I don't mind the current promoted trends/tweets/follows, I guess the only thing I would change is call the promoted trend something else, because it isn't really a trend.
It's not. That's not easy, that's a fundamentally realignment of the product.
What if you're a normal guy and you get famous from some youtube video? Now you're a celebrity. Pay up - but oops, you're broke? Fuck it, you're off Twitter.
Not gonna work. :/
There are definitely options.
On a similar note, though, I am surprised that this hasn't sparked more discussion about the distributed open source social networking movements. I know Dave Winer's been talking about quitting Twitter working on some sort of alternative. There seem to be some interesting answers to Facebook that could orthogonally solve similar problems to the ones Twitter does. Anyone know of any other interesting work along these lines?
Why yes it is. Twitter went out of their way to say how much they supported developers and considered them key to their success. That wouldn't seem to include making Titan off limits.
If we start seeing a lot of Dickbar-level gaffes from Twitter though, it may end up that the other 20% starts flocking to something else (kind of like the slow exodus from MySpace to Facebook).
Since the nerds founded the Twitter community, I wouldn't be surprised to see the next move be some sort of open, distributed, federated Twitter-clone that mirrors the existing APIs. Easy win for the client developers, no one to be a buzzkill, and it's not like spam can be any worse than it is now anyway.
I've used identi.ca almost as long as twitter, and my preferred client Twidroyd on the Android supports both of them (thanks to the fact that identi.ca has an option to use an API made to emulate the twitter-API).
I highly prefer identi.ca to twitter, and the only thing keeping me on the twitter-network at all is the fact that most of the people I follow only are on twitter, and for some strange reason it's very hard to convince people to change, even though, in my opinion, identi.ca is superior.
I really hope they soon manage to get a twitter-pull up and running (they have been talking about that for a long time now). If they managed that I would convert fully to identi.ca.
Edit: Got to update my browser more often... Sorry bingaman
Generally I almost only use free software, and prefer open-platforms whenever possible. I actually can't remember the last time I used non-free software.
You can see this in action at https://identi.ca/conversation/60337615 (which also points out some of the rough edges).
well, if one didn't put him/herself into Myspace in the first place, the one wouldn't need to seek refuge.
I don't really think this is hostility - I think it makes sense for Twitter and for developers; people who've just been trying to replace Twitter themselves were always fighting a losing battle.
Until today, "Twitter itself" referred to the network, not the clients.
Except when it doesn't.
It's not a zero-sum game-- the house winning doesn't mean that the bettor loses. Zynga, Rovio, and FourSquare are all pretty fat on platforms they don't own.
The point is that in the end, you're never going to be in a better position than the guy who runs the show. You can often win alongside them, and that might be the bulk of developers, but if you're enjoying a better position than the platform operator, that's not going to last forever.
Zynga is making $50M per month: http://www.engagedigital.com/2010/05/14/zynga-revenue-estima... (they've raised $500M).
Foursquare is a bit farther from monetizing... Not sure if I'd bet on them but they would be nowhere without the FB/Twitter platforms under their feet. But they've raised ~$20M on a rumored $100M valuation.
That isn't debt. In both cases, the companies sold a small minority stake of ownership for a huge pile of cash into the company coffers.
Not debt, but it's still money owed.
False, and inanity.
> (edit: My hunch is that, too late, the Pareto principle will be discovered hard at work: 20% or less of Twitter users actually generate 80% of the value. I just can't see it as a bland, empty consumption tool. There's surely peril in optimizing toward that.)
Sounds like what Digg tried. On the other hand, while we can see how that one went Digg had competition.
What's Twitter's competition? What other almost-but-not-quite-as-used (say within an order of magnitude) microblogging service is there out there?
tumblr, for some demographics.
Convore is infinitely more optimized for community than Twitter was, though it remains to be seen if the structure helps or hinders organic community growth.
This service was built when Jaiku was being run down by Google, and features microblogging with threaded comments, embedded media and language filters
A lot of people also made money in these areas but clung to their companies' obsolete business models for so long their net gain was modest or negative by the end as they rode them down to the crash.
Twitter, like Apple, right or wrong, wants to have complete control of their platform. It certainly is within their rights and not at all shocking that at a certain point, they would reset certain parameters. Whether they go too far remains to be seem. We probably don't need any more Twitter clients, but who knows. Maybe the slickest, most awesome. voice-activated, built-in hipness meter, Twitterlishous(tm) has yet to be written.
The hype surrounding free APIs without formal agreements is the biggest farce in the Valley. We are now in that phase of the cycle where this will become more and more apparent as these companies with awesome APIs get serious about making money(and the free API impeding their revenue plans).
Free APIs--especially the powerful ones--should be seen as "cute things" with little purpose beyond experimental side projects. If you ACTUALLY want to build a company off someone's API, get a formal agreement with that company especially if that company insists you don't need one.
So much has changed since the 90s when access to APIs meant paying huge $. And yet, so little has really changed.
But partly in response to competitors like WebM, they made the royalty-free license permanent in August 2010: http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2010/08/mpeg-la-counters-g...
Its fine to rely on them, but you need an exit plan.
But on a larger scale, there are few venture-backed cos without formal API agreements who have not run into trouble. Those are really the ones I was addressing. Like you said, ones who succeed have an exit plan in which case they are not really relying exclusively on the APIs so it becomes a moot point.
A guy building an app on top of an API and the app taking off is still building "cute things" in my book. And yes, every now and then you can make a quick buck from the cute thing.
That is, Twitter is planning to monetize by making their product worse, and they don't want anyone offering a service on the level of what Twitter used to offer.
All of this would have been better had Twitter just started off by slapping ads on their service and making it clear how they were going to protect it. Instead, they've grown their userbase (at least among the technorati) by asserting that they weren't going to pursue the exact model they seem so ardently chasing now.
Sure, 3rd party app devs might be "suckers" for having latched on early, but I don't think that excuses Twitter for such a (to use a Gruberism) dick move.
Pedantically nitpick much? ;)
While there is no proof that this would achieve a required level of success, had Twitter been doing it for years, they would have learned a ton, and made a lot of money.
Using Twitter accounts to connect to their community and run ads could still be tried, and a level of balance found. (They can respond to inquires from a separate account that accepts no followers so it's replies don't show in anyone's timeline.)
IMO if they have to add some inconveniences to their product to make some dough, I have no problem with that. They have a company to run and sometimes you have to make hard decisions.
I just wish they were more upfront about it than their present passive-aggressive demeanor.
Where is my ability as a user to pay for the API and use whatever heck I want to access it?
And if the organic trend is towards official twitter client adoption, why are they taking the risk of coming out and bitching at developers to stop making clients? Everyone already noticed the market for these sorts of apps drying up, and has started wondering how serious twitter actually is about keeping a robust 3rd-party platform for the long haul. This just adds fuel to that fire, for no gain whatsoever.
I get what their goal is. They're positioning to make a serious push to get ads/promoted tweets/etc in users' faces, and they want everything in place to be able to shut down or prevent the 3rd party clients that pop up to filter all that out. Okay, fine. But why make the big announcement like this? Why explicitly freak out all of your developers while you're still on a trajectory of solving the problem organically? Why not wait until it's actually a problem, when you're actually seeing increased adoption of 3rd-party clients that ruin your plans?
It's always interesting to watch a company work hard to solve a problem they perceive from their perspective that's completely at odds with the problem the rest of us see from ours. See also: record/movie companies and DRM, Rupert Murdoch and Google, MS and Internet Explorer, etc, etc, etc.
How can a company who's user base has grown to such an amount because of third party clients say something like this? Talk about showing a little appreciation. As someone who develops a Twitter client, it is a huge kick in the teeth.
"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."
Translation: "we will be looking very hard for any excuse to shut down existing unofficial Twitter clients."
Wether or not that backfires on them is yet to be seen.
And are they also "shoving" an extremely popular, free service with ongoing development "down your throat?" I am a fan of free software etc. (even set up a diaspora account... lol), but I don't understand how people expect businesses such as twitter to run forever without a viable revenue stream.
Of course, they shouldn't kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but after a while you have to wonder if these eggs aren't just tin someone took a can of spray paint to! What "gold"? Tons of users are nice insofar as they lead to money. Users are not an end in themselves.
Sorry for the rant but please, people, stop acting like twitter owes you something. (My comments are vis-a-vis users, I do think what they are doing to developers is not right, from a courtesy point of view.)
If you're going to roll on new draconian policies, have the balls just to lay it down as it is. Not wrap it up as if they're doing the developer community a favor when clearly no developers have been asking this at all!.
(Yeah, I know that 'we've been asked' is usual a PR spin mechanism, it's just a shitty way to communicating with people)
If you ask me, that's actually worse. Why such ambiguity? It is pretty apparent Twitter is no fan of clients because of revenue reasons. They will do all of us a service by clearly acknowledging that and simply banning apps of specific nature.
It would sting, sure, but I'd respect a company openly stating financial realities versus a company giving developers a runaround.
Sometimes the model turns out to be inefficient and unsustainable, and such companies are crushed by more open competitors, but not always.
That's why it feels so wrong.
If nothing else, I think it’s advice developers should seriously consider heeding if they want to create value (and generate revenue) using the Twitter ecosystem.
Regarding whether the tone is “hostile” or the message represents “a kick in the teeth,” I think people need to keep some perspective: A hundred and how many million tweets a day?! That's a lot! If I were responsible for the big picture at Twitter, supporting your junior high science fair project Twitter client would not be at the top of my to-do list.
At this point, Twitter needs to realize that the ambiguity isn't helping their PR, its the reason they have a PR problem in the first place.
EDIT: Minor grammatical correction.
What are the support costs? I would think you publish the API and it's up to the client to manage it from there.
Right now that means TweetDeck, but if something better came along, I'd jump to it. It lets me do things I can't do in Twitter's tools (or that I don't easily see how to do).
So from an 'outsider' on this topic: boo!
I love Twitter and have several friends that work there, but I am losing all confidence in developing on the platform when I am not a big-name company with an official partnership.
A 3rd party twitter dev since 2007
Back in the Soviet Union a lot of things were happening "by request of the workers", for example an unpaid [and mandatory] additional day of work on Saturday sometimes.
On another note, I don't understand why Twitter are so callous to throw away their community goodwill on a whim. They already have a lot - just look how they took a stand when the data for one of their users was requested by the U.S. government. And then they do something like this. (After [this](http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2313152).) And the dickbar!
I notice the omission of the words only or even mostly. I'm curious about the raw percentage of tweets from official/non-official apps.. and the percentage of users who use official applications say, 90+ % of the time.
So if you follow a web link to a tweet while logged in or authorize with oAuth, you've used an official Twitter app.
Given that possibly expansive criterion, 90% is on the low end of what I'd expect.
- Display of tweets in 3rd-party services. We need to ensure that tweets, and tweet actions, are rendered in a consistent way so that people have the same experience with tweets no matter where they are. For example, some developers display “comment”, “like”, or other terms with tweets instead of “follow, favorite, retweet, reply” - thus changing the core functions of a tweet.
While I don't like the idea of 3rd-party services treating Twitter as a white-label medium, it's hard to believe this is coming from the same service that is famous for letting its users establish convention, and then supporting that convention. (@, #, etc)
I used to get the feel that they wanted to let the ecosystem develop naturally so it could realize it's full potential. That "build great stuff and we'll win" mentality. Now it feels like they've got a "strategy" that they're executing. Without that light touch it just doesn't seem as fun a place to work.
build great stuff and we'll win
To me it seems companies like Google that did that are rather the exception that confirms the rule - building a great business model should be a top priority.
You know what I consider a fun place to work? A company that doesn't have to borrow money to stay alive that also happens to work on cool projects. Even Mozilla is profitable; and even if their partnership with Google goes away in flames at some point, how fucked up is that?
Sometimes! Twitter has done pretty well with it so far. Depending on the specifics of your product you might fail. But my intuition is that making stuff people care about, and only monetizing where it's painless is a pretty airtight strategy, yes.
A company that doesn't have to borrow money to stay alive that also happens to work on cool projects
So you think the only two options are "sacrifice your community's goodwill" and "having enough money to stay alive"? I think there's a middle ground where you can leave some money on the table in order to stay focused on the stuff you care about, but still pay your bills.
If this is true, then what's the point of this announcement. They make it sound like they are already getting what they want...people moving at a rapid pace towards the official Twitter applications. Yet in the same release they come off as scared that the fragmentation is growing. I don't get it.
Yes, we helped build the ecosystem and make it a viable company...but if you read "Crossing the Chasm", it is almost a blueprint for what these platforms are going through and doing...they rely on early technical folks to build a base...but eventually need to reject those early users or marginalize them for sake of profit...very interesting read.
"I think the time for filling the holes in the Twitter service has come and gone. It was a great period for Twitter and its third party developers."
In other words: they urge devs to develop a client with added value. Wether that's apps for "Company Tweeting" or Real-Time Data, it's adding something to the core experience of Twitter.
Most importantly, I think Twitter Inc. still likes "normal" Twitter apps, as long as they have added value: a superior UI. So get devving, and make the new and better Tweetie!
"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"
This sounds to me like they don't really want "normal" Twitter apps anymore, but have just grand-fathered in the existing ones, while opening the door to closing them down if they don't follow the guidelines.
From this announcement, it sounds like they also don't like clients which have different UIs than Twitter now.
You know what I think? There is ONE solution to pass this problem: Integrate such things into the API so EVERY client has to show the Dickbar. This sounds like the logical next level.
As bad as it sounds I think they have some good points about that cause, you know, they want to make some money and integrate some annoying stuff to the official apps. 3rd party apps don't have these kind of annoying things and that means they don't earn a PENNY from those "assholes" BUT they are earning money from their apps which uses the Twitter API.
I know this sounds crazy but I think that's exactly what Twitter is thinking about. They want people to use their official Apps BUT if they use other Apps these MUST HAVE the Dickbar (or whatever) too so Twitter earns money.
Lets see in which direction this will go BUT I have to admit that this "letter" to developers is fucking sharp.
"We need to ensure that tweets, and tweet actions, are rendered in a consistent way so that people have the same experience with tweets no matter where they are."
Then I read further down and they talk about different areas of the ecosystem. Inconsistent message. Do they want outside development or not? Are they intending to release a mandatory graphics toolkit?
A new normal Twitter-user (some who doesn't read HN, basically) might think something like this: "Oh, so this is where you post images on twitter? Doesn't look great. How do I login? Ah nevermind, I'll go back to Facebook." At the same time, TwitPic adds something to Twitter, in such a way that it fits in with it.
Bottom-line: users will connect 3rd-party apps and experiences to the API provider, so Twitter is right in making clear that they don't want crappy apps.
PS. Thanks for helping us get this far!
Just seeing this issue I really think that there is still spaces for even more Twitter clients. Last months or so there is one called littlecosm.com which is a client+game type.
It is like they simply don't want people to avoid looking at their public timeline without promoted tweets and dickbar. What a shame.
Its always been strange that they'd let 3rd parties be a primary interaction model since its very hard to monetize other peoples clients.
Google API key seems to be at least one way to do it.
The developers that contributed best applications for twitter ecosystem.
but now that it has justin bieber and other celebrities along with millions of their followers twitter feels like it does not need that core contributing community anymore.
To me it looks like start of demise for twitter.
> For example, some
developers display “comment”, “like”, or other terms with tweets instead of
“follow, favorite, retweet, reply” - thus changing the core functions of a
Very true. I have accidentally tweeted by “logging in with Twitter” and then “commenting” on comments. Despicable behavior, and it should be stopped. (Alert! Previous statement is narrow in scope!)
It also explains apps suddenly losing access to the API and then regaining it. Twitter was asserting its control over standards.
I think if you aren't building a client, following the rules and adding value you don't have anything to worry about. To me that is great news.
I see this as a very disappointing move by Twitter for the fact that they are alienating the very developers that helped build their brand. This is a glaring warning sign for all applications that are based on an external platform. If nothing else, this should serve as a lesson to all developers that free API's should be utilized with discretion.
This is based on tweets composed.
"... 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"
I want to see someone give twitter a run for their money. They're sloppy.
There's now 75k registered Twitter apps. You're not going to be successful making a generic client. Think bigger: there's plenty of room for success in other Twitter verticals.
(and boooo for the fake FUD headline)
I think it's rather that they want to own the client space, and are setting a "high bar" - i.e. a way of removing the competition by fiat. But if you supply content that they can make money off of, by all means, continue to sharecrop.
In practice, i must bring MS as a positive (!) example. Not that they were saint or anywhere close to it, yet they didn't even come close to use legal sh!t like EULA/Terms of service to hit developers on their platform. MS provided their own competitive products and used [sometimes dirty] tricks to win.
Still makes me glad I don't depend on Twitter's platform at all.
On the other hand, I disagree and think people should be able to build whatever experience they want.
The precedence of things.
1. identify best client out there
2. buy it
3. ruin it
4. outlaw all other (well, new) clients
couldn't he just write "you're fucked, we're the boss" without all this corporate BS speech?