A couple of weeks ago, Twitter told developers they would be tightening their Display Guidelines to help facilitate a "consistent user experience." Yesterday, Twitter announced it is in the process of upgrading its API, and enforcing a type of "certification" for certain applications.
Today's Twitter ecosystem
According to the Twitter post to developers, @sippey (Michael Sippey) wrote:
Today on Twitter we see a broad and deep variety of individual developers and companies building applications using data and content from the Twitter API. Roughly speaking, we bucket these applications based on their target audience (i.e. consumers or businesses) and their core feature set (i.e. do they enable users to engage with Tweets, or do they use Tweets for data analysis purposes). With our new API guidelines, we're trying to encourage activity in the upper-left, lower-left and lower right quadrants, and limit certain use cases that occupy the upper-right quadrant.
Image from Dev.Twitter.com
So, what do they mean by Syndication? Don't worry about tools like MarketMeSuite, HootSuite, Radian 6, Sprinklr... according to Twitter these are planted firmly in the upper LEFT quandrant: providers of tools that help businesses engage with Twitter including social CRM. But what of this upper RIGHT quadrant? Developers unlucky enough to fall into this category are going to have an uphill battle with limitations on how they can use the API and pre-approval necessary in some cases.
It should come as no surprise. Ryan Sarver said "Don't reproduce the mainstream Twitter experience." Soon after buying Tweetdeck it was clear that Twitter was intent on controlling that element of their platform. And, in true free market spirit, there's a company out there looking to capitalize on the sometimes shakey Twitter ecosystem.
According to today's Mashable Coverage:
After having raised $600,000 (and counting) through crowdfunding, the team behind App.net is ready to build a "real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers." The solution? An open, ad-free network funded by users (who pay $50 per year for basic access) and developers (who pay $100 year for API access and support). The campaign was inspired by a widely circulated entry that App.net co-founder Dalton Caldwell (who is also a co-founder of picplz) posted on his personal blog. In the post, Caldwell argues that Twitter has failed to reach its potential because it has sold out to advertisers. "Twitter could [have been] one of the fundamental building blocks of the Internet via their powerful API," he recalls. Instead, "the advertising group [at Twitter] won," and now Twitter's next step will be to "kill all third-party clients... [in order] to control the 'content,'" he writes.
I suggest you read the entire post. Dalton is right in so many ways. But I wouldn't be so sure people are so ready to jump ship. According to the comments already piling up on the Mashable article, people don't seem to pleased at the idea of paying $50 a year to social network. And, there's the massive Twitter audience and mainstream integration (iOS for one) that Twitter has going for it. That being said, who knows. It's often been argued that the 3rd party developer community made Twitter so popular. Could a disgruntled group of devs start a revolution to challenge the site that their apps helped make so popular? It's possible, sure. But for now, I think it's safe to say the world will continue to tweet.