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Has Twitter bought TweetDeck?

CNN reports Twitter paid $40-50million, although both companies refuse to comment

TweetDeck for iOS
TweetDeck for iOS and other platforms might be under threat if Twitter now owns the client

According to CNN Money, Twitter has bought third-party client TweetDeck for something between $40million and $50million — although Twitter still refuses to confirm this and TweetDeck would not return our request for comments. Such a deal would be a curious proposition, hot on the heels of Twitter inflicting pain on third-party developers, which commentators have argued is in part a means to drive people towards Twitter's own clients.

Twitter's Ryan Sarver hasn't been shy in stating that this is Twitter's end game, stating: "With more people joining Twitter and accessing the service in multiple ways, a consistent user experience is more crucial than ever". This makes any purchase of TweetDeck all the more curious.

According to web developer Mike Mackay, suggestions Twitter might have bought the client to kill it are unlikely to be correct. He told us: "I think they'll keep TweetDeck as 'true to life' as possible, and simply just make sure that it follows their guidelines and best practices. What better way to ensure the second-biggest Twitter client abides by your rules than to buy it outright yourself?"

However, MacKay also noted that while "it would be foolish of Twitter to drop the application in support of its own original client, because people want choice in their software and are familiar with TweetDeck," such action isn't without precedent: "We've seen it in the past where companies buy out the competition only to drop it completely,” he pointed out.

Developer Ben Marsh told us that the acquisition is perhaps more strategic: "TweetDeck gives Twitter an official native app for Windows, something Mac users had since Twitter bought Tweetie in 2010." However, with a native Twitter client already on iOS, Mac and Android, he wondered how TweetDeck would fare on those platforms.

He also thought a Twitter-owned TweetDeck would be forced to change: "TweetDeck's desktop app doesn't really fit with the Twitter experience in its other official apps, with multiple streams and support for Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks,” he said. “It is hard to imagine Twitter making any drastic changes to TweetDeck, given its huge following, but support for rival social networks would surely be the first feature to go, and following comments from Twitter's Ryan Sarver about consistent user experience, I think some level of UI change is inevitable."

Marsh suggested that perhaps with TweetDeck being used by interaction-heavy 'power-users', Twitter may relaunch it as a paid-for 'pro' app for some additional revenue. Meanwhile, Anthony Herron quipped on Twitter that perhaps the company had another reason: "If I had $40million, I'd buy TweetDeck to make the deck.ly nonsense stop. Oh please make it stop!"

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