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Twitter continues 'war on clients'

TweetDeck and API spats irk devs and users

Twitter's increasing clampdown on API usage, mostly relating to third party clients, continues to irk the industry. In the latest development, Kris Holt reported for The Daily Dot that Twitter itself had yet to adhere to its own display requirements. These state tweets must be displayed in a consistent manner across all Twitter-supporting apps – yet, Holt noted, Twitter's own TweetDeck app contradicts Twitter's rule regarding so-called 'timeline integrity': "Tweets that are grouped together into a timeline must not be rendered with non-Twitter content. e.g., comments, updates from other networks."

This latest blow follows last week's developer scramble. As reported by Matthew Panzarino for The Next Web, developers had assumed they had until 15 March 2013 to update their apps for Twitter v1.1 API compliance, but the deadline was in fact 5 October 2012. Panzarino said that the date was posted on Twitter's display requirements page, but not on its original and widely shared announcement that mentioned the March date. Because of this, developers have been caught short, including Tapbots, creators of popular client Tweetbot. Paul Haddad of Tapbots was quoted as saying the company required extra time to meet all of the guidelines, but this ran the risk of Twitter shutting off API access; however, he inferred Twitter was "willing to work with developers" over the coming weeks.

War on clients

Social media expert Suw Charman-Anderson told .net that "Twitter's war on third party clients shows that they don't see any value in supporting an ecosystem any more, and that they believe that their income will come from their website, from the mass market and advertising." She explained that in the wake of Facebook's IPO, investors are now looking carefully at the size of an audience and also revenue. "Facebook is facing more pressure to show investors the money, and it's very likely Twitter is too. Twitter hasn't yet managed to monetise its ecosystem so now, instead of trying to find ways to do that, it's trying to kill it."

However, Charman-Anderson warned that any business model reliant on mass-market advertising is risky in the current economic climate, and suggested a smarter company would explore varied revenue streams. "Twitter could offer paid premium and business accounts, pushing ads out via their API to third-party clients, better analytics, and a suite of tools for businesses using Twitter," she said. "Twitter has become a key tool for businesses, and the fact that it hasn't managed to provide strong tools for businesses managing accounts is just an astonishing omission." Charman-Anderson added she now feels like a "broken record" when talking about Twitter, and fears for its future: "Twitter is a service I love, and I really wish that they'd open their eyes and do some proper product development so that they can create a sustainable business. As it is, I find myself not feeling much hope for their future."

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