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Twitter could ban third-party clients 'with ease'

Developer Benjamin Mayo has on his blog outlined the spread of Twitter client usage. Twitter doesn't make such data readily available, and so Mayo ran a script to run through a million tweets and log their sources, which he said was "significant enough to portray the trends to a good degree of accuracy".

Various recent stories have shown how Twitter continues to squeeze out third-party clients and CEO Dick Costolo told the Wall Street Journal that he wants to move from companies that "build off of Twitter, to a world where people build into Twitter". Mayo's figures suggested this might not be the tweetageddon people were expecting. His research showed over 70 per cent of tweets came from first-party clients and many of the rest were apps that post to Twitter, such as Instagram, rather than de-facto Twitter clients. On discounting so-called 'invalid' tweets, the first-party share in Mayo's sample rose to over 77 per cent.

"For people that think Twitter will never ban third-party clients because there would be too much backlash, I think this 77 per cent figure shows that Twitter could do it with ease," said Mayo, adding that many of the remainder would also probably switch, and that the only people who would care would be geeks. "And let's face it, Twitter doesn't care about geeks."

Talking to .net, Mayo elaborated, saying that Twitter might be following Apple's lead: "The success of iOS demonstrates you don't need to appeal to techies. With its recent actions, Twitter is simply focusing further on the mass market – everybody who doesn't care what client they use. Personally, I think the perfect example of this is Facebook, of which there are no third-party clients for and nobody blinks an eyelid."

In the long run, Mayo said, Twitter has decided on advertising as its revenue stream and therefore needs to control the platform and clients: "Perhaps they don't want to kill off third-party clients specifically, but if it is a choice between monetisation or bankruptcy, the decision to kill third-party apps is 'advantageous'. Also, the transition is closely linked to the move from VC funding to independence. Whether that means Twitter will fade away is another question entirely, but you don't have to be open to succeed. Facebook, with a billion users, is living proof of that."

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