The Murky Future of 3rd Party Twitter Apps

Magic 8-Ball, it’s been a while but I have some questions about Twitter’s recent blog post. You know, the one where they talked about “stricter guidelines” for how the Twitter API is to be used by third party apps. Since Twitter isn’t talking, I was hoping you might be able to clear some stuff up for me. Can I ask you some questions now?


All this talk about stricter guidelines and a “consistent Twitter experience” seems pretty ominous, should developers of 3rd party Twitter apps like me be worried?

Reply hazy, try again

I mean some people are calling Twitter’s non-announcement a “bombshell”. Are things really that bad?

Better not tell you now

What do you mean? Are you saying that 3rd party apps are about to become extinct or that Twitter just wants each app to display the timeline in a similar fashion?

Concentrate and ask again

I know Twitter’s got to start making serious money to pay for it’s massive overhead, are we talking about ads in the timeline?

Outlook good

If we’re talking about ads, I can deal with that. I’d rather have promoted tweets in Twitterrific than being forced to stop developing it completely.

What about expanded tweets, will Twitter force us to build some form of them into our apps?

Signs point to yes

If we don’t, do you really think Twitter would restrict API access and hang 3rd party apps out to dry?

Better not tell you now

That’s very comforting, thanks.

Don’t you think Twitter’s users would revolt if they took away our Tweetbots, Hibaris and Twitterrifics?

As I see it, yes

Damn straight they would. There are many developers and companies who have build their livelihood around the Twitter API since 2007. We even helped Twitter evolve and grow to where it is today. Are you saying none of that matters now?

Without a doubt


Some developers are already suggesting we start creating a web-based, open alternative to Twitter using something like RSS. Would that really work? Would users really switch away from Twitter for a grass-roots service?

Don’t count on it

Do you think it’s a good idea for developers like us to keep coding away on their apps for now?

Most likely

Could the folks at Twitter have done a better job with their blog post to help stop the spread of paralyzing FUD?

It is certain

You really haven’t been much help to me. One last question…

Is the golden age of 3rd party Twitter apps over?

Ask again later

Meh! What do you know, anyway!


  1. Speaking as a long-time user, it saddens me that Twitter’s heading towards a more closed system. It was the API and the third-party ecosystem of “barnacle apps” that allowed it to beat out rivals like Pownce in the beginning. I can tolerate in-line ads. Hell, I’m even willing to pay for a Pro account to make them go away. Forcing bad experiences into good apps is a practice I hoped I’d never see Twitter do, especially when they can’t seem to keep their own native apps up-to-date.

    Twitter is what it is right now because of companies like Iconfactory. Pissing off third-party developers is akin to slitting their own throats.

  2. You know, I’d be quite happy to fork over $24/year per account to Twitter. I’m quite certain that’s more than they make trying to help people sell me stuff I don’t need. Heck, I’m sure it’d be a net gain for them at $6/year.

    Instead, we get this bullshit. Twitter isn’t happy, IconFactory isn’t happy, and I’m not happy. And sooner or later, advertisers will realize they’re not happy either.

  3. All you need to do is look to the *great success* of relatively closed networks like Myspace. I guess they did so well without a vibrant developer ecosystem, Twitter is trying it out for themselves!

  4. Just adding my voice to the chorus. Someone oughta start a campain if they haven’t already. If they have, or you do, post a link here.

  5. @twitterapi @sippey I strongly object to any API changes that would limit 3rd p. clients. Esp. since Twitter’s own apps pale by comparison.

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