So now that the obvious is out of the way – we'll look back one day and see this as the day Twitter fucked the dog.
They've made a decision that motivates the very core of early adopters who embraced Twitter to move on.
Yeah, they have to make money. They've convinced themselves the experience must be entirely under their control to do it. Okay. And maybe that's so.
And maybe they'll squeeze some pennies out for awhile.
In the meantime, there's a group of folks who first jumped into Twitter during the days where you weren't chained to their mediocre user products. They'll start the move to a better network.
And one day, everyone will look around and see all that's left on Twitter is the glitter gif morons and big brands with more money than sense, just as happened with MySpace.
I don't think Twitter should be concerned unless someone builds a better product.
Which is inevitable. Their clients are crappy, otherwise there wouldn't be a third-party ecosystem to piss off in the first place.
Which means their only defense is network effects.
Which means it's probably a bad idea to motivate all your early adopters to find and grow the network that unseats you.
Take a look at the Twitter trends list if you want proof that Twitter caters more to "normal people" than it does "technology" people, here's the #1 trend as I type this: http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23NameATurnOn
Yes, their only defense is their network (which is, in my opinion, their "product"), but the majority of their network is not going to leave because of their developer relations. Twitter are safe as long as an alternative doesn't exist and they provide value to their users.
Twitter aren't stupid, they're not going to be enacting this plan if the majority of their users use third party clients. I suspect the majority of people that do use third party clients are those using "value adding" third party clients, like Hootsuite, and those that use Hootsuite are the people that get value from Twitter's network (for example marketing people) so if Hootsuite shuts down they're not going to quit Twitter, they're going to move to an official client.
If your client annoys people too much, they'll move on too. Nullsoft learned that the hard way with Winamp 3. Gnome may be in the middle of that lesson right now.
> Twitter aren't stupid
Oh come on, that's not an argument. There have been countless examples throughout history of companies (in tech and otherwise) that have done stupid things that have directly contributed to their demise. There's no reason to assume that Twitter won't end up like them.
This will inevitably decrease the amount of "normal people" as active users.
Twitter is run by people, and sometimes people make decisions which are, either at the time or in hindsight, stupid. The argument that companies won't do something because it will damage them has been proved wrong so many times in the past.
I'm not saying that this particular decision is stupid, but the idea that companies always act in some kind of enlightened self-interest make the right decisions to do so is just plain wrong.
But whether MySpace died from Twitter's flavor of incompetence or not is irrelevant to the point that the end result is going to look comically similar.
I wonder if it alienating Gaga/Bieber would turn out any better for them then alienating developers though.
 ... Twitter seems to clearly intend to move in the direction of becoming an advertising business.
It seems like a mistake to me, if only because as it currently exists my twitter feed is already full of what amount to ads. A lot of the culprits are people just like me—journalists touting our latest articles. Then you have various other media personalities, celebrities, and authors investing in their personal brand. You have food trucks telling you about their location and local restaurants touting specials and deals. Every big company has one or more corporate twitter accounts these days for PR and marketing purposes. Rather than selling lots of ads on Twitter, Twitter could sell itself as a service to the large number of people and firms who are already organically using it as an advertising tool.
Which is just to say that the Twitter user base seems ideal for a tiered pricing model. Most people on Twitter don't tweet that much, don't have very many followers, and don't particularly aspire to having a large number of followers. Then you have a relatively small minority of heavy users who are deliberately courting a mass Twitter audience. Just charge us! Let everyone with fewer than 500 followers use it for free, and then have a few tiers of pricing for people with large followings. Most people probably have no desire to pay for Twitter, but anyone who's bothered to amass 20,000 is obviously getting a lot of value from access to the Twitter audience and would pay for it. Meanwhile the broad mass of non-professional users could keep using a great no-charge ad-free service that creates the ecosystem pro users want to pay to gain access to.
The problem is that they seem to be overreaching, and doing it in what may be a self-destructive manor.
Text messaging has certainly been driven by user fees. If you look at the tv market it's moved from primarily ad driven to primarily fee driven.
They use Twitter because they could get constant updates from Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
3rd party apps means nothing to them as long as Bieber and Gaga are still on Twitter.
> They use Twitter because they could get constant updates from Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
> The vast majority of Twitter users don't use Twitter because they like the 3rd party apps.
And entirely missing the point. New technologies are driven by early adopters. And Twitter is in the very unique position of having flipped a lever that alienates that precise population all at once.
So they'll move on to the next big thing, build up the network, and eventually Bieber will move over because it's actually not hard to build a better product than Twitter.
Their only insurance is network effects, and they've undermined that advantage by delivering the most perfect gift basket packed with early adopters to Dalton Caldwell.
This is why you're missing the point.
Twitter isn't "new technology". It's not even a technology company. It is a way for people to get their celebrity fix.
Sure early adopters would move to whatever Dalton Caldwell is building. That's a non-event to 99.9% of Twitter users.
Followers of Lady Gaga don't care what new service Robert Scoble is jumping to.
Its competition will be.
If the world worked the way you're describing, Yahoo would still be king, MySpace would reign supreme and and I'd be using a Blackberry.
In the short term, Twitter will be fine, of course you're right there. I'm not proposing an instantaneous timescale.
In five years, they're fucked.
Good luck trying to compete on technology when the users don't care about technology
> If the world worked the way you're describing, Yahoo would still be king, MySpace would reign supreme and and I'd be using a Blackberry.
...and Craigslist would still be king in local marketplace.
Oh wait, Craigslist IS still king in local marketplace. What happened to all those CL competitors who touted their superior technologies and APIs?
That's right, they all failed because the users don't care about the technologies and the APIs.
I'm so glad we agree on this. Users indeed do not care about technologies or APIs.
They care about great experiences.
Twitter does not excel at great experiences. If they did, third party clients would not have to exist.
Since they do, 23% of Twitter users choose to consume the network via superior-to-them, third-party offerings. Twitter has signed the death warrant of those products. Craigslist would be a valid counter-argument had it been initially built on the strength of third-party clients and then killed them. (PadMapper doesn't count, before you bring it up. It came to craigslist after dominance, not before.)
Twitter, on the other hand, has two native clients that began their very lives as third-party products.
We'll see. Maybe Twitter will be just fine after taking their most engaged users and sending them elsewhere.
Or maybe the users will follow their tech-savvy friends to a better experience, which again, isn't a hard category to trounce Twitter in.
> Since they do, 23% of Twitter users choose to consume the network via superior-to-them, third-party offerings.
So what you're saying is that the vast majority (77%) of Twitter users choose the native Twitter offerings because they offer superior experiences.
Twitter is an experience. I actually hardly use it because all I can figure out it is good for is passively receiving spam from people I am following as they try to market their ventures to me.
But I recognize that early adopters mean nothing in this context, technology is irrelevant. You guys need to start trying to create some real tech and stop this fantasy that markup is some kind of high tech stuff in 2012.
I think you just made Twitter's point for them. Yes, their current apps have problems, but I think they are really worried about the varied Twitter experience people are having on all of the various implementation of it. If someone has a bad experience on Echofon, they might blame that on Twitter, so I think you are right, and this is Twitters (possibly flawed) way of holding onto that.
You haven't made a case for why this distinction matters. I don't think it does.
Early adopters influence the populace when it comes to new experiences. Any new twitter clone is not a new experience. If twitter already solves the "celebrity fix" problem, it doesn't matter how new or shiny its technological superior will be. No one will care. This is exactly why CL is still king, why Facebook is still king, and why twitter has nothing to worry about.
(Myspace was different in that facebook had the "cool" factor that myspace never had).
Which is why I believe what nerds are ranting about on HN does make a difference. I would guess that other users will never find out about certain stuff unless the serious nerds let them- they are the "trend makers" so to speak. Whether popularity equals instant and lasting profit is another question. But no one can deny Twitter has become very popular. It's valuable because it's useful, even if it's not a winner in terms of profitability. (Much like Wikipedia.)
Contrast this with the enormous number of developers who are focused on some mythical end user they can speculate about and that they know they can easily manipulate. Or with folks who are using PR and the tech media to fool investors and generate short-lived buzz amongst less savvy users. Internet VC guilty as charged. These guys are usually rational and know the scent of money a little better. But they cannot control what becomes popular, not like a mob of irrational, fussy nerds can.
Free stuff frustrates a lot of developers. But do not forget the internet is in its infancy. We're still trying to get stuff working. That Twitter even works (the SMS part) is a blessing.
Will App.net be able to make agreements with all the telcos as Twitter did? We shall see.
Are there any ground breaking Twitter applications that are keeping users around? If not, why would they need to make themselves a platform?
Conversely, I use no third-party Facebook applications, unless you count FB Connect as a more than a SSO mechanism (i.e., I'm not actually using FB or its network benefits on any site/app using FBC).
What decision specifically are you talking about?
This is ridiculous, and I'm going to figure out how to get out as soon as possible.
edit: I put my money where my mouth is, as it were:
Thank you for joining App.net!
You will receive an email confirmation to complete the signup process.
Your plan is Developer Tier for $100 per year.
You're in line to join the alpha with username: @aaronbrethorst.
Who could have known that Twitter would just hand you the entire game with one stupid maneuver.
The limit isn't 60 hits per hour. It's 60 hits per hour per endpoint, and only for some endpoints.
The user limit is 1 million users for certain api endpoints, and 100k for others - and if you need more than that, they would like you to reach out to them.
Oh, and also, all current clients are grandfathered into the old terms.
Please examine the bandwagon carefully before jumping on it.
"If your application already has more than 100,000 individual user tokens, you'll be able to maintain and add new users to your application until you reach 200% of your current user token count (as of today) — as long as you comply with our Rules of the Road. Once you reach 200% of your current user token count, you'll be able to maintain your application to serve your users, but you will not be able to add additional users without our permission."
Translation: 'Fuck you, 3rd party Twitter clients.' They'll still cut them off at the knees when they hit at most 200,000 users.
Edit: I kept reading the blog post and it got better:
That upper-right quadrant also includes, of course, "traditional" Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Echofon. Nearly eighteen months ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience." And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post, that guidance continues to apply today.
In other words, 3rd party Twitter clients are dead. Not today, but next year they're dead as a doorknob.
Edit 2: Thanks for the clarification on the '200%' thing. I think the net result is still about the same for Twitter clients in the end. They'll be EOL'd by their developers and increasingly ignored by users.
Although this distinction doesn't really change anything.
Translation: 'Fuck you, 3rd party Twitter clients.'
They'll still cut them off at the knees when they hit
at most 200,000 users.
Not clients that cater to anything other than the basic user. Managing multiple accounts already seems to deviate from that qualifier.
I wonder what would happen if Twitter built this capability into their own app.
Or, if they just said "yeah, well, fuck you."
This is built in to the official iPhone Twitter app.
Bad: Tweetbot, Storify
What is this, Opposite Day? That stopped being fun in kindergarten.
Wonder if that means 3rd party apps can't add actions to tweets like "assign to a user", "translate", "schedule a reply", etc. That might just kill major functionality for apps like HootSuite, CoTweet, Radian6's Engagement Console.
Or, since it's under the guidelines for individual tweets, are tweets in the timeline excluded from that limitation?
If you can't raise revenue, reduce expenses. That cut is significant enough to reduce their rate of growth of monthly expenses but probably not enough to reduce their rate of user growth. Probably not a bad move for them.
With press releases like this Twitter is App.net's new best friend.
There will be a set of high-volume endpoints related to Tweet display, profile display, user lookup and user search where applications will be able to make up to 720 calls per hour per endpoint.</i>
60 calls per hour are only for certain endpoints, probably creating lists, tweeting... It's really rare that an user uses so much of this kind of resources. The endpoints that are used the more (viewing tweets, look up an user, etc) are actually less limited than before.
It could suck for live-tweeting events, though.
What happened to those plans? They seemed so smart...
Don't you mean Tweetbot or something? Tweetie was bought by Twitter, rebranded to be the official Twitter client, and in no small part gutted and left to rot (gutted for the mobile version, left to rot for the desktop one).
>Tweetie was bought by Twitter
That's what they said. I think you misread that post.
In fact, the official clients are almost unusable on slower/older Android devices, whereas twicca is fast and responsive.
It's amazing how poor the first party clients for Facebook and Twitter are compared to the functionality and rate of development on 3rd party apps. Maybe paying to be a part of a less restrictive network will be worth it in the end. I just hope they can get a big following with a bunch of apps integrated with it.
1. They want to corner the advertiser & business market - ie it's an attack on Hootsuite etc
2. They want to lock out competitors from pwning them on search (Google/Bing incorporating [good] twitter results into their searches would IMO be devastating to twitter - particularly if they didn't embed intents / hueg links to twitter everywhere)
3. They want to own the ecosystem so that twitter clients don't cross-post to Facebook/G+/app.net/favourite social network here
4. (I don't think this is likely) - Twitter thinking that they can somehow squeeze an extra couple of bucks out of each user if they're on an official client via advertising or something similar.
Each of these seems plausible to me, but all of them essentially involve twitter holding customers/data/users hostage which doesn't seem like a great strategy.
Is there some angle I'm missing here / reading too much into?
- Twitter doesn't want to own analytics for business or consumer players.
- Twitter doesn't want to own engagement for businesses.
- Twitter DOES want to own engagement for consumers.
This seems pretty counter-intuitive to me. Since businesses are the ones who actually pay twitter cash, I would have expected them to try to own the whole left side of their chart, and leave developers to create new innovations for the whole right side of the chart. What would you have to believe in order for this to be a good idea? Some possibilities:
- Twitter thinks that developers will ruin the consumer experience, slowing their growth.
- Twitter thinks that businesses won't pay them unless consumers are tweeting on twitter.com
- Twitter doesn't think that analytics or business engagement services will be lucrative enough for them to invest directly in.
- Twitter thinks that if the developer community spends its effort in the top-right, it will distract the community from innovating in the other three quadrants, where Twitter wants to see more development to unlock more business-driven revenues (This one is a real longshot, but I'm trying to be comprehensive)
- Twitter doesn't care about users tweeting or consuming tweets if they aren't on twitter.com (I'm still struggling to figure out why this is bad for twitter -- any thoughts, HN?)
Before Twitter would be remotely concerned about antitrust, there would have to not be a place with more users that you can talk about your cat's lunch to your heart's content. Facebook has more to fear than Twitter does.
I think twitter is a cool concept/application, but I'm not sure it will ever be a great business.
Basically, what you need to solve in something like p2p twitter is: how to authentificate the user, how to send the message around, how to archive the message that it is not lost.
Now the genius idea:
all of this is exactly what bitcoin solves.
Bitcoin already has mechanisms for authenticating. Bitcoin already has mechanisms for sharing messages (altough it is called "transactions"). Bitcoin has a mechanism for archiving those messages (it's called "blockchain").
And the kicker - bitcoin already has an ability to enter arbitrary data into the transaction. (sure, not much, but about the 160 letters tweets have.) You just add it into the script and add OP_DROP; since the transaction including script is signed, noone can just remove it.
My idea was to hijack the already existing bitcoin infrastructure and hack Twitter-like P2P messaging thing on top of it; let's call it "bitmessage".
How would sending a "bitmessage" look like? Well, you can, for example, send money from your address to the same address (send money to yourself) and add the wanted string into the script.
You can then look for a message of a given user (if you take bitcoin address as an ID of the user).
Now of course, this wouldn't be free for long (if it catched up). Right now, bitcoin miners take just anything the P2P network throws at them, but if the network was flooded with people sending money to themselves with a message in script, they would just throw these away so it doesn't enlarge the already giant blockchain. However, you can add fees to any transaction. If you add fees high enough, some block miner will eventually take your "bitmessage" and add it to the blockchain.
Would the resulting thing be equivalent of twitter? No, it would be slow (it takes about 10 minutes to get transaction to blockchain) and it would most likely not be for free (if it catches on, miners will throw away the messages with low fees). On the other hand, every message would be recorded forever, without any chance of anyone deleting it, censoring it or getting your IP address. Also, the Bitcoin seems to be going strong and doesn't seem like it will go away any time soon, and the infrastructure is super-strong.
I want to hack a prototype... maybe... one day.
I was thinking the downside would be that the blockchain would end up being HUGE if it got even 5% of the traffic that twitter sees every day. That said, maybe you could get around it by breaking the chain into randomly distributed sub-segments or something like that. Maybe I'm overestimating the storage requirements and it wouldn't be so different than what bitcoin has to deal with already. And ah yes, the miners... Not as much motivation for miners to verify transactions (or posts or whatever) with a service like that, and kind of a pita for the users if they have to pay something for each tweet... then again, would probably cut down on twitter bots/spam...
It seems to me that a project like that would be really difficult as Twitter has had enough problems scaling an infrastructure they control 100%. But yeah, I think there's a lot that could be learned from bitcoin to do something like that.
About the scaling problems.... the bitcoin ecosystem is altogether the biggest supercomputer ever. I think it will handle it somehow.
Of course, the problems like searching in the blockchain for a given address would still be there. But again, thin clients (and, therefore, a slight centralization) are the future for bitcoin anyway.
I also don't see how this action actually wins them that many more eyes. Are there really that many third party Twitter apps out there?
A large amount of users rely solely on a dedicated third party client. If those apps lose the ability to provide the same reliable service, then Twitter (as a platform) will also be affected.
Still, I could see the argument that some users are better than others and the most engaged ones are more likely to get a third party client.
Which means either Twitter loses those users eventually or coerces them into using their first-party offerings.
Except when they do these kinds of things, and I wonder how on Earth it makes any sense besides "because we can"?