Twitter Commits Suicide – A Response

If you kinda know what Twitter is or just asked yourself “what’s Twitter?” this will bore you.

Twitter recently unloaded a bunch of changes that have already been rolled out or will be making an appearance in the near future. Here’s the highlight…

  • Twitter built and released their own BlackBerry app
  • Twitter bought Tweetie, which is a very popular Twitter client for the iPhone
  • Twitter is teasing us with the new version of the website that is said to make Twitter desktop clients useless (the last part is one person’s opinion)
  • Twitter launched a new ad system that FINALLY answers the question everyone has been asking…” What is Twitter’s business model?”
  • Twitter MAY have their own flavor of URL shortening and Picture sharing services planned

Lots of stuff for one single bound in time, but it honestly makes sense for it all to come together in one fell swoop. Yay Twitter.. right? Not so as some see it.

Neal Wiser of posted an article titled “Twitter Commits Suicide (or Twipocalypse Now: Redux)“. Go read it and then come back if you want…

Basically it states that all of these changes will ultimately result in the demise of Twitter.  The reason? Twitter is now competing with it’s own 3rd party developers. Meaning Twitter could potentially run most 3rd party developers into the ground. This part is completely possible. In fact, it’s very likely that developing apps for Twitter will no longer be the gold mine it once was. What I don’t understand is how Neal leaps to this being the catalyst to the demise of Twitter. Will some turn their backs on Twitter as a response to being bitten? Probably. There are even groups looking to respond with a service that will knock Twitter off of it’s pedestal. But will Joe Public even notice or care? Not likely. There are already services out there trying to do what Twitter does… and they are all wildly less popular than Twitter.

3rd party developers got the short end of the stick when all of these announcements were released, but these developers were not signed into any kind of agreement or guarantee with Twitter. They were simply given tools that allowed them to build apps that would interface with Twitter. Everyone, including Tweetie, had access to the same tools. The idea that Twitter will now have “Twitter for iPhone” is not a comforting thought for these developers, but if EVERYONE is allowed the same access to the Twitter API, shouldn’t Twitter themselves be able to release apps using that very API? I think that kind of protection for 3rd party app developers would not only be unreasonable, but would also hold Twitter back since not having an official app causes confusion for many users and makes the trial and error experience of “finding the right app” frustrating. Honestly, for each good Twitter app available right now, there are ten crappy apps. How is the average consumer supposed to wade through all of that? Alternatives will remain, but the Twitter app gold rush has come to an end. For iPhone, Atebits won with Tweetie.  Everyone else is free to find their niche spot in the alternative section or find the next service to develop for.

Neal also made a point about innovation. Now it’s true that if many apps fall by the wayside, you won’t have nearly as many developers pushing the innovation of Twitter apps and services. This will ultimately result in a slower “innovation curve” for the service. Personally, I don’t see this as a problem though. I think there is an unreasonable expectation for applications and services to almost reinvent themselves continually to remain relevant and popular. Twitter “has made it”. The changes they are making are specifically geared to maintain the giant they have built. If they reinvent themselves 10 times in the next 10 years, it is likely they will change so much, there will be no REAL resemblance to the original service. If instead, they do EXACTLY what they have done in making these changes, they will be tightening and perfecting a service that millions already know and love. Building and innovating is an essential part of life, but it’s just that.. a PART. The vessel is complete and Twitter knows it. Now all they have to do is maintain it well.

Twitter suicide? Not even. Pissed off nerds? Well, yes… but this is business. Twitter made a business decision and it changed how things will operate, but unless you are one of the developers with an app in your hand that is headed for the trash, you will benefit from this.

That’s my take. And if Neal is reading this, dude, we just disagree. No harm, no foul, that is all.

3 Comments on “Twitter Commits Suicide – A Response

  1. Thanks for your comments. I’m always happy to debate when presented with a thoughtful argument, as you have done. Admittedly, “Suicide” was a bit of hyperbole, but I couldn’t help myself (my bad). Btw; I addressed your comment about Twitter becoming unrecognizable if it keeps reinventing itself in last year’s post “Twitter Fatigue: Rumors of Twitter’s Demise May Not Be Greatly Exaggerated” ( If you haven’t read it, I’d like to hear your comments.