On the future of Twitter: Developer reactions

On the future of Twitter

I've already had my rant, as have John Gruber, Matthew Panzarino, Lex Friedman, M.G. Siegler, Jerry Hildenbrand, Benjamin Brooks, Shawn Blanc, and many others across the blogsphere. Which is good, because tech bloggers, especially Apple and mobile tech bloggers, tend to be monster Twitter users (and not the automated social media marketing types -- actual heavy-duty users the type of which helped spin up the service to begin with.) Yet we, like any user, will be challenged only so far as the apps we use to engage Twitter are challenged, and those apps are made by developers, and those developers are at the front lines.

So what are the Twitter developers saying? Here are some excerpts and links back, and I'll add more as I find them.

Paul Haddad of Tapbots:

There’s been a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt generated by Twitter’s latest announcement. I wanted to let everyone know that the world isn’t ending, Tweetbot for Mac is coming out soon, Tweetbot for iOS isn’t going anywhere. So sit down, grab a towel and let’s go over some of these API changes.

Gedeon Maheux of the Iconfactory:

Well, there's some good news. Twitterrific has tons of user tokens available, enough to make the next version more than doable. #whew

Marco Arment of Instapaper:

Closer to home for me, it affects Instapaper’s “Liked By Friends” browsing feature, which will need to be significantly rewritten if I want it to comply. (If.)

Nate Weiner of Pocket:

We’ve been told that the new API guidelines are not intended to affect or hamper your ability to integrate Pocket with Twitter apps or clients. The ‘social actions’ refer to Twitter’s own actions like Fav, RT, and Reply.

David Barnard of App Cubby:

At this very moment I bet there are thousands of people writing many millions of words about Twitter losing its way, so I won’t pile on. But as a former Twitter developer, I will say that I am deeply saddened by today’s announcement. The 3rd party ecosystem is what made Twitter. This announcement is a huge slap in the face and a knife to the back.

So, indeed, the sky isn't falling. Your favorite Twitter app or tweeting feature isn't going anywhere. Yet.

But to paraphrase Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back (and really, why wouldn't you?), Twitter has altered the deal, and all Twitter-dependant developers can do is pray Twitter doesn't alter it again.

Because it's not only about the present, it's about the future, and when you start to think you won't be next, it usually means you will be. You. Will. Be.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

On the future of Twitter: Developer reactions


Twitter's user base is changing, as you've mentioned before, Rene. The "monster Twitter users" represent an ever smaller fraction of the total user base. To most Twitter users it's RSS For Dummies with a dash of social-networking-narcissism. They use it to stay up to date on Lady Gaga news and tweet profoundly boring idiocy while watching #AmericanIdol. It's the easiest way to talk back to your TV.

Twitter seems to be inching away from being a pure "social networking" medium and inching towards monetizing themselves by setting the stage for more advertising. The sponsored tweets, the widely despised and short-lived #dickbar, and the gradual squeezing out of 3rd party apps all point toward that inevitable ad-driven future.

And they'll get away with it. Plenty of mega-corporations will buy ads, in whatever form Twitter creates. And consumers will eat it up.