How In Two Moves Twitter Kills an Ecosystem

Courtesy of Sean Rasmussen

Courtesy of Sean Rasmussen

Twitter has made some major changes that have taken a huge bite out of the third party developer ecosystem for tools, add-ons and clients.

  1. Twitter started (rightfully) buying/building their own official Twitter clients for multiple platforms.  This was needed as no one knew quite where to turn outside of the web interface (that had clients built to make that better) and SMS via a cellphone.  Any other application written to interact was from third parties hoping to capitalize and productize a consumers interaction with Twitter.  Guess what?  If it isn’t free they were really buying.  Sure, some of them made sales, but in the grand scheme of how may users there are, you would think someone could emerge as a winner.  No one could when the service itself is free and companies developed for the fun of it.
  2. Twitter forced all the tools to begin using oAuth, or get off the network, in the last 10 days.  As some of you may know, if you not you now will, I am one of the founders of EverythingTwitter.  The largest review catalog of tool, add-ons, sites, and whatever else we found that revolved around Twitter.  It is all categorized and searchable, which made finding point #2 easier.  Approximately 15% of the tools listed had oAuth implemented at the time we wrote the review and cataloged the tool/site.  This means that many of these tools just got knocked off the network and unusable until updates are done to their authentication.

So what does this mean to the average user?  Nothing.  They use the web, SMS and some built in clients that come with phones.  Some go on a search for the best tool for their particular device and stop there.  The masses?  Nothing.  Effectively burying the usage of these alternate tools.

Building a business around a social media site that is free is tough work.  Building a business that has consumers wanting to pay for a tool to interact with a tool they use free is even tougher.

Our daily hits on EverythingTwitter remain about the same, even with the fewer tools we list each week.  People are searching but seem to be coming back to the same results.  Twitter has official clients for two of the top mobile operating systems that their users utilize, iPhone and Android.

I wish much luck to those still building new tools and clients around Twitter that do not have an established name already.  (I can see the stats that show what names get the most traffic with us).  I also hope those tools we highlighted over time reconfigure to enable oAuth as soon as they can before they are forgotten.