Twitter: The World’s Most Controversial Network?

Twitter is a social network a lot of us use on a daily basis. I could easily Facebook, because Twitter is the network for me. However, its recent activity has not gone unnoticed and the San Francisco-based company has recieved a lot of controversial attention over its practice with developers.

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the recent attention Twitter has been getting and looking at what it means for us, the users and consumers of third-party apps.

Tweetbot for Mac Launches, At a Price

Twitter has, for quite some time, been receiving negative attention for its developer relations, especially those of third-party clients who’s main function is to replicate the set of features available in official Twitter releases, albeit with notable differences and additions.

This was thrown back into public knowledge when Tweetbot for Mac launched at a price significantly higher than both its equivalent iOS counterparts and other Mac clients. At $19.99, Tweebot for Mac doesn’t come cheap.

The price is down to a very simple case of costs being higher than what can be reclaimed through limited supply at the prices we expected.

We know some will not be happy about Tweetbot for Mac’s pricing, but the bottom line is Twitter needs to provide us with more tokens for us to be able to sell at a lower the price. We spent a year developing this app and it’s the only way for us to be able to make our money back and continue supporting it with updates in the future.

In Version 1.1 of their API, Twitter essentially limits the amount of copies of Tweetbot for Mac that can be active, therefore raising prices as there’s an ultimate limit to how much Tweetbot can make from this. Should they have more copies to sell, chances are that Tweetbot would be cheaper.

Why Should I Pay?

This is the first thought that came to mind when Tweetbot launched was “why should I pay?”. There’s definite blame to be had on both sides. The developer has invested in a restricted platform while the provider is imposing the limits.

Tweebot is a costly investment.

Naturally, one can argue that having the app available, even at a higher price than normal, is better than being without. However, with Tweetbot being far from perfect while the fine official Twitter for Mac client remains available, it can be a tad ballsy to launch at this price.

Regardless of your opinion on whether Tweetbot should have even bothered with these limits, the launch has portrayed Twitter as a villain.

App.Net

This controversy comes at a time when App.net campaigns for members. The paid-membership service seems designed for developers, with an “open” API continually touted. Tweetbot developers Tapbots even launched an App.net client themselves and a somewhat steady slew of third-party apps have presented themselves.

App.net loves its developers, building a social network that relies on them.

While App.net might be more developer friendly, the software network remains far from the popularity of its closest rival, Twitter (posing the question, why Tapbots chose to developer for this platform too, which remains restricted in reach). With an entry fee, even in the face of a more developer-friendly API, it’s difficult to picture a time when App.net gain a significant enough reach.

Be sure to check out our previous coverage of App.net.

Final Thoughts

Twitter shouldn’t necessarily be portrayed as the villain here. It’s important to understand exactly why Twitter is changing things in an effort to control the core Twitter experience, preferring developers not to build clients that merely replicate what Twitter themselves do. Doing so allows Twitter to modify and manipulate its service as it wishes and provide a more cohesive experience to users between platforms.

It’s also of note that the API changes are mainly to target the culture of apps that do mimic what Twitter is already doing. The API is in place for more innovative apps to prosper, using Twitter as a platform to do more unique things. And I get that. It’s just a shame that those that do want choice in their core client have to do so at significant cost.


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