A Michael Sippey-bylined post on the Twitter dev blog recently outlined changes to the Twitter API, noting that it wanted to "limit certain use cases" that occupied the upper-right quadrant of it usage matrix – the bit that had crossover between 'engagement' and 'consumer'. The other sections: business focus and analytics. In other words, Twitter now wants to make money, and to do that it's becoming an ads platform and needs control of the Twitter experience and to not be so open with its social graph.
Twitter recently restricted access to social rivals LinkedIn and Instagram. Last night, BuzzFeed's Matt Buchanan noted on Twitter that Tumblr is the latest service to have access to Twitter connections revoked, presumably due to the way it somewhat rivals the service from a microblogging perspective. As reported by The Next Web, Twitter engineer Alex Choi said the decision "just stinks" and ex-Tumblr employee Marco Arment said that it "looks like some serious bullshit on Twitter's part". He thought this latest move suggested Twitter would now "only permit large services to add value to Twitter, not get any value from it".
Given that Tumblr was an enthusiastic Twitter partner, we wonder whether this latest block will start a backlash against the service, or if Twitter's simply too big to fail. App.net is gaining traction and has the potential to change social networking but nonetheless has a fee-based barrier to entry that will stop rapid mainstream adoption. However, Facebook isn't following Twitter's scorched earth policy, and so it's possible Twitter could find itself isolated as people return to using Facebook as their social hub, linking it to other apps and services.
Dustin Curtis commented in a blog post that disruption was now a very real problem for Twitter (possibly through App.net), and that the company's position is "extremely dangerous", because it "creates resentment in the minds of the people most likely to influence the future", making developers unlikely to side with a company that refuses to provide value to them.
Currently, developers appear to be taking a measured approach, although those at odds with Twitter's policy are wondering if they will be next. Pundits have guessed Flipboard will be the next major site to have its access revoked, although popular Twitter client authors Tapbots (Tweetbot) and Iconfactory (Twitterrific, where many Twitter conventions originated) are putting a brave face on things, stating development plans remain unchanged. But given that Twitter is updating the rules and single-mindedly removing everything in its path that it sees as detrimental to its vision, we wonder if even they are on borrowed time.
What's your take on Twitter's newfound focus? Will you stop using the service if it continues its scorched earth policy? Post your thoughts below.