Over the last 6 years Twitter has grown in leaps and bounds. Third party developer communities have played a significant role in this growth but Twitter has not been forthcoming in its appreciation. On the contrary, it has been tough and how -bringing down apps such as UberTwitter (now UberSocial), Echofon, and Twidroyd. In early 2011, Twitter had announced that developers should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. Twitter further added that the apps have been violating privacy issues, trademark infringements, etc. However it was also highlighted that this crack down was due to mobile Twitter clients like UberSocial eating up Twitter‘s advertising revenue. Twitter, which had been criticized till now on how it is going to make money, had to be strong with the third party developer community.
And carrying the same tone further, Twitter has issued a strong notice to its developer community again in a recent post by Michael Sippey on the Twitter developer blog. Michael, reminding developers of the 2011 crack down story in the post, said that,
“The announcement made by Ryan Sarver in 2011 holds very much the same today and developers should not “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.”
It is interesting to see Twitter coming down hard on a community that helped it grow all these years. The popular ‘RT’ is one of the features that was incorporated by a Twitter app, Tweetie initially and later on it was added to Twitter. So why suddenly Twitter has changed its stance on the developer community?
Why is Twitter being harsh on the developer community?
The easy answer is that Twitter wants to create new ways of making money and block the apps that could eat it’s revenues. Like Facebook, Twitter has struggled to make advertisement revenues. In 2011 when it was highlighted by Twitter that the crack down was due to security and trademark infringement issues, experts also highlighted that Twitter is worried by the advertisement revenue’s that are being eaten by the third party apps. In the latest announcement Michael also added that:
“We’ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Road with partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.”
What Twitter means by introducing stricter guidelines around Twitter API is something that we will have to wait and watch. But interestingly, the developer community has expressed that Twitter should be honest on how it wants the advertising to show up in Twitter feeds. These sentiments were disclosed in a poll done by TNW after the news broke out. So the coming days would be interesting to see as to what kind of attitude Twitter dons in front of the developer community. And if you are a startup that is providing Twitter services on mobile devices, then you have something to worry about.
Do you think Twitter’s new antics with the developer community is justified? And if you are a startup that is going to be affected by Twitter’s latest announcement then do let us know what are your thoughts in the comments.