back to article Twitter ad play chokes third-party devs

For years people have talked up Twitter as the future of journalism, described it as a freedom-fighting platform and used other such bold phrases. As it turns out, Twitter is just an app. And not always a very good one, thanks to its increasing efforts to monetize the interface. I suppose it was bound to happen. Twitter, for …


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  1. The BigYin

    'Nuff said really.

  2. Andrew Jones 2

    re: official apps

    I don't really know about iPhone but I do know that Twitter are working on getting push notifications implemented into the official Android app.

    Once C2DM is enabled and @mentions and DM's start arriving in realtime - a lot of people will probably migrate back to the official app for both convenience and the better battery life it will offer.

    (no need to poll the mentions feed or messages feed every x minutes looking for tweets - only poll once each time it gets a push notification telling it to)

    As for desktop??? Twitter don't make a desktop app so they cannot have a say there?

    1. The Other Steve

      Is ignorance really bliss, or do they just say that to make you feel better ?

      "As for desktop??? Twitter don't make a desktop app"

      Yes they do. The 'official' twitter app was one of the first items available from the Mac app store. It's sufficiently awful that I can see how people would wish that it didn't exist, but it does.

      "so they cannot have a say there?"

      Yes they can, because a desktop client app still has to comply with API ToS.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Ah Frack!

    I guess I will have to dump the twitter now. I guess it is just lowly email for me from now on.

  4. Old Handle


    I thought the whole point of Twitter was that you could use it though text messages, without a special client. Do they intend to do away with that too?

  5. The Other Steve

    Stop saying words

    "For years people have talked up Twitter as the future of journalism, described it as a freedom-fighting platform"

    People who spurt that kind of gushing hyperbole tend to be full of shit, you should probably ignore them.

    "The company announced last week that due to "user confusion", the company was effectively going to kill (or maim) rival Twitter clients."

    No, no they didn't. Admittedly it turns out that they could have communicated better, otherwise I wouldn't be reading yet another "ZOMG! WTF! Twitter is DEAD TO ME NOW!" story. But that's not what was said, nor was it really implied except in the minds of a few of the more febrile denizens of the dev mailing list and the usual supporting cast of hysterical new media douchebags and assorted tin foil ass-hatters. Even the BBC jumped in - 72 hours late and wrong - with a story about the death of third party twitter apps. Didn't happen.

    Here is a very short list of the actual facts : Twitter tweaked their ToS. Twitter intends to enforce their ToS. BFD. The guys at Twitter don't think your clients are very good. They are largely correct.

    "Canonical chief technology officer Matt Zimmerman writes, smart companies are those that listen to users, not just customers."

    And on the day Canonical announces a profit, I might even care.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Since they can't know for sure if their cliend actually displays anything...

    They have only two options:

    1) forbid 3rd party clients by trying to encrypt the protocol (good luck with that)

    2) allow only "certified" 3rd party clients that pass their code audit (good luck with preventing the use of unauthorized ones).

    N.B. I don't use tweeter.

    1. The Other Steve

      Since they can't know ....

      Yeah, because it would never occur to them to download a third party client and have a look at it. They'll never think of that.

  7. Peter Kay


    I may have had a few beers, but let's get down to brass tacks :

    1) Is twitter making money? Apparently not

    2) You're advocating rival clients rather than advertising? Where's the income stream?

    Don't get me wrong, I like twitter and will disappear if they flood my twitter feed with ads. However, twitter are making absolutely no money from me, they don't provide sufficient value to make me pay for it (or to be more accurate, the value I place on it is extremely low - 5 to 10 quid a year, absolute maximum and that's allowing for various events twitter has informed me of).

    Involve third parties? Absolutely. Not if they aren't willing to provide revenue either directly or indirectly though..

  8. Allicorn


    'bout time.

  9. lucmars

    Twitter ?

    But, what is it ?

  10. anarchic-teapot


    "The company announced last week that due to "user confusion", the company was effectively going to kill (or maim) rival Twitter clients."

    That post appears to have been deleted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Goodbye Twitter

    The moment Tweetdeck stops working is the moment it's deleted from my iPhone and Twitter with it.

  12. dotdavid

    Ads in Tweeter

    Not sure why Twitter doesn't just add "sponsored tweets" to everyone's feeds. Intrusive, perhaps, but assuming I'm an average Twitter user and judging by the amount of c**p I get in my feed most people probably won't care if advertisers have paid for some of it...

    It also has the benefit of automatically being applied to all 3rd party clients and retains compatibility with SMS if people *really* want that.

  13. The Other Steve

    @anarchic-teapot/@AC 11:08

    ""The company announced last week that due to "user confusion", the company was effectively going to kill (or maim) rival Twitter clients."

    That post appears to have been deleted."


    There was never a post that said that, but for reference, this was posted to the dev list yesterday, author may like to update :

    From : @rsarver :

    "The original posting has seemed to disappear. So for the sake of posterity, here is a link to the same thread on the discussion group:"


    "The moment Tweetdeck stops working is the moment it's deleted from my iPhone and Twitter with it."

    That won't happen unless Tweetdeck is somehow breaching the ToS, @rsarver's clarification, apparently much needed by people with poor comprehension skills - and arguably late because of there being so many - posted to the dev mailing list at 00:24 UTC today :

    " ...I don't know how else to make this any more clear. As long as you stay within the rules, your app will not get shut off. We would like to see, and recommend that, developers focus on bigger opportunities with more potential than writing another consumer client app."

  14. xperroni

    The 140-character business plan

    So after years of consideration all they could think of was force-feeding a billboard onto their users? Damn, I can think of three better business plans right now:

    - Drum up txt'ing as the "natural" way to update Twitter accounts (the 140-character limit was originally meant to comply with SMS), then approach the Mobile Operators and ask for a cut from the increased messaging revenue. Or perhaps do it the other way around - strike a deal with the operators, then promote txt'ing updates?

    - Charge handset manufacturers for bundling Twitter clients into their software, offering to provide / develop the client;

    - Ever so slightly charge businesses for using Twitter as a customer channel (they're using the platform commercially, it's only fair they share a cut from their revenues).

    What these three plans have in common is that they're unobtrusive, and don't jeopardize Twitter's user base. Also they mean going after real businesses and asking them for money, which of course takes some guts to do - perhaps the reason for falling back to an ad-based model in the first place?

    1. The Other Steve

      You pay for texts?

      So that's the first plan out. The second one would require them to lock out all third party clients - which we've established would cause the whole Internet to burst into tears and never use twitter again.

      As for the third, well, promoted tweets are a cak handed and similarly unpopular attempt at doing just that, but twitter seem to think - and I have no idea if they're correct - that revenue streams from businesses are best derived by selling access to the full twitter stream for analytics, having signed up Gnip as their preferred (and currently only) reseller.

      Time will tell whether businesses see value in this.

      1. xperroni

        Re: You pay for texts?

        Yes we all pay for text messages – the operators don't route them through their networks out of goodwill. In some markets this is hidden in the bill as a "package" of X messages allowed every month (and of course you pay the whole "package" whether you used it up by month's end or not); other times it's an "all you can eat" proposition. But the MNO's do sell this to us as a service – and anyone making an appealing case as to why we should care to buy it could reasonably expect to make a cut.

        You don't have to clamp down on third-party clients to charge manufacturers for bundling them into their handsets. "By all means, bundle whatever client you want, third-party, homebrew, you name it. But if it gets out of factory Twitter-enabled, you pay." It would be relatively simple for Twitter to block non-complying handsets (by checking the UAS / UAProf on HTTP requests), just so the makers couldn't call it bluff.

        As to the value in this proposition, imagine you're a manager in a manufacturer and decide this is ridiculous: "sure we can simply ship your handsets without a Twitter client, letting the task of installing one to consumers!" Then, the following month your competitor launches a properly-licensed, "Twitter-ready" model, and makes a beautiful marketing case out of how you can "just turn on and start tweet'ing!" Pesky competitors, eh?

        As for the third idea, I was not talking about "promoted" anything, but of charging money – a monthly service fee, if you will – from businesses that use Twitter as a customer channel. This would be done in a way similar to how some softwares are "free for personal use" – private Twitterers enjoy it for free, corporate Twitterers pay up. You could even give them some sugar (e.g. support, extra customization options, etc) just so they don't think they're getting ripped for nothing, but the basic idea is that mostly everything remains the same, except that now it costs money.

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