Last week Twitter’s platform product manager, Ryan Sarver, made the statement that developers should give up on making clients to interface with Twitter.
In a lengthy public statement, titled “consistency and ecosystem opportunities,” Sarver says, in no uncertain terms, “developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.”
Really? This statement blows me away because it is just another step in Twitter the companies march towards owning every element of its ecosystem. Soon there will not be any third party app to access the Twitter stream because all of them will come from Twitter itself. Where does it stop? Pictures, videos, statistics, etc.?
We now have official apps on most mobile platforms that come from Twitter so how do we keep our choices when it comes to third party apps to work with Twitter?
I think it is a huge mistake for Twitter to tell developers they need to stop being creative when to comes to third party solutions. It is that diversity of choices that make things great. Has anyone located one Twitter app that fulfills all of your functionality needs? Is it an official app? I have found one for myself that is not an official one and I know others have their favorites but the default programs fall well short of full functionality.
What if our choices came down to only the official app? Would you be happy to live with that or would you want to be able to make a choice from a broad selection of programs and pick the one that suits you? The strength of the community is not being limited to one or two choices but to a wealth of options to get the same task done.
I personally think Twitter has to tread very carefully here, especially when it comes to developers, because if there is no one out there evangelizing your service by creating apps and programs to interface to it, it will die a slow death.
Oh, people will use the default or official apps but when they start to miss the functionality that choice once gave them they will move on and you will eventually be sitting there wondering where everyone went. Curious what happened? You alienated those who wanted to work with your product and that never bodes well for most companies.
The solution? Police the API use and hold those developers and their programs accountable like you did a few weeks ago with Twidroyd and UberSocial (the app formerly known as UberTwitter). Monitoring use of the Twitter API is your job Twitter so to complain that you have to do that probably does not hold much water for developers and I am sure others.
“Twitter has to revoke literally hundreds of API tokens and apps a week as part of our trust and safety efforts,” explains Sarver (Via Wired UK)
Bottom line is to allow diversity and creativity to flourish because that is what made Twitter what it is today. It will continue to grow the system not squelch it.