Twitter threatens to cut off rival apps
TWITTER HAS threatened to cut off access to tweets for some popular smartphone applications, angering developers with its move to exert more control.
A blogpost by Michael Sippey, Twitter’s director of product, has set out new “rules of the road” for third-party developers, indicating that they must not build apps that compete directly with Twitter’s software for smartphones.
Additionally, Twitter imposed “requirements” on how other smartphone applications display tweets including an edict that tweets must not be displayed as part of updates on other social networking sites. Sites that do not comply would have their access to tweets choked off. These moves potentially bring Twitter into direct conflict with other social networking sites such as Facebook.
In recent weeks, Twitter has prevented LinkedIn users from automatically importing all their tweets on to the business social network. It has also revoked the ability for users of Instagram to “find your friends” from Twitter to follow on the photo app, which is being acquired by Facebook.
By moving to ensure tweets are reproduced in a more strictly defined way – beyond its own site and apps – Twitter will be better able to commercialise the activity of brands and celebrity on its network, especially as Twitter expands its platform beyond text to accommodate multimedia and apps too. But these efforts, which some have compared to Apple’s tight control of its App Store, have stoked growing unrest among Twitter’s developer community.
Marco Arment, who runs Instapaper, a newsreader that allows users to clip articles shared by friends on Twitter, among other features, said Twitter was proving “unstable and unpredictable” for developers.
“I sure as hell wouldn’t build a business on Twitter and I don’t think I’ll even build any non-trivial features on it any more,” he wrote on his blog.
Twitter’s moves reflect its desire to protect what executives see as its greatest commercial asset: the interests and passions that it can divine from the people and companies Twitter users, numbering hundreds of millions, choose to follow. Twitter sees this “interest graph” as more valuable to advertisers than Facebook’s “social graph”, its network of friend connections.
Twitter’s proposition to advertisers centres on the ability to target its “promoted tweets” and other advertisements to users based on their interests, and the company is concerned that rivals who can tap its full feed, such as LinkedIn and potentially Facebook, could hijack this data to sell their own ads around it.
This process requires ownership of the end-to-end Twitter experience, but developers have criticised Twitter for threatening to cut off apps such as Tweetbot and Echofon, which users say offer more advanced features than Twitter itself.– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012)