Posts Tagged ‘API’

Is Twitter Getting Desperate?

twitterSay goodbye to Twitter.

It’s not disappearing but the Twitter that we’ve known and loved is riding off into the sunset. The new Twitter is more focused on making business, and less concerned about playing nice with others.

Twitter’s makeover was thrust into the spotlight on Friday when it unveiled the end of its tweet syndication with LinkedIn.

It means Twitter will no longer allow for the syndication of tweets inside LinkedIn that included features such as threaded conversations.

In a blog post, Twitter’s Michael Sippey said the decision reflects the “increasing importance of us providing the core Twitter consumption experience through a consistent set of products and tools” and how developers should not “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.”

“Make Twitter Even Better”

While Twitter is spinning this decision as a way to “make Twitter even better”, it’s a move that will abruptly and irrevocably change how people use Twitter, the delightful buffet of third-party services available, and the creativity of developers.

The way to translate Sippey’s blog is the company is tired of people using feature-rich third-party services to use Twitter.

This is a big problem because the third-party players using Twitter’s API have created services that are better and more user-friendly than Twitter.com. At the same time, these players have been building businesses by offering premium services and ads.

Throw a Party But No One Comes

This must be frustrating to Twitter, which has been scrambling to improve Twitter.com over the past year. It is like throwing a party but few people come because you decided to share your invitation list and DJ’s selections with people hosting other parties.

The question many people are asking is why Twitter has become so strident about how third-party developers use its API. The availability of the “fire hose” or parts of it has been a major part of how Twitter has established such a huge global footprint.

The simple answer is Twitter has become desperate as its scrambles to build a viable business to justify its sky-high valuation. As a result, it now makes little sense to support rivals who are luring away users and advertisers.

In the short term, Twitter will be criticized and its developer community will not be as vibrant or creative.

In the long-term, Twitter is counting on getting more financial leverage from its 500 million users around the world. It’s a tough decision but a necessary evil for Twitter as its aggressively goes from a popular project to lucrative business.

For more, Dalton Caldwell has a good post talking about the battle within Twitter between people who believed the company’s core business should be data, and those who wanted to pursue a business built on advertising.

AllThingsD’s Mike Isaac wonders about what Twitter’s move means for companies such as Flipboard that mimic Twitter’s experience.

Twitter Turns Five. Now What?

Hard to believe it’s been five years since Twitter was started as a side project by Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey. From its roots as a spin-off of Odeo to becoming a global communications phenomenon with more than 175 million users, Twitter has become one of the most fascinating, if not the most fascinating social media story.

But as much as Twitter ranks as one of the leading social media players, there are still many questions about where it’s heading and how it’s going to get there. As Twitter heads into the second half of its first decade, here are a few of the most burning issues:

1. Will Twitter ever discovery a lucrative business model. While eMarketer suggests Twitter will have revenue of $150-million this year, Twitter is far from being a cash-machine. After rejecting the idea of contextual advertising, Twitter finally took the bait a few months ago, quietly rolling out a promoted tweets program into beta.

Meanwhile, there are lots of companies making major revenue by leveraging Twitter or its API. Ad.ly, for example, is emerging as a player in the referral marketplace by signing deals with popular celebrities such as Charlie Sheen,who get paid to post tweets about specific products.

2. Is Twitter really serious about going to war against the developer community? After letting developers go to town using its API, Twitter recently put the hammer down. In particular, it strongly suggested that developers not create clients that would replicate the experience of using Twitter.com – something that has proliferated because many third-party services and applications (e.g. TweetDeck, Seesmic) do a much better job for users.

3. Is there an IPO happening in the near future or will Twitter be acquired? To be honest, one of the most surprising things about Twitter turning five-years-old is that it’s still independent. With a strong brand and lots of users, Twitter should have been snapped up by Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft….or anyone with deep pockets and a need to expand its digital presence.

Who knows, maybe Twitter’s founders and investors believe patience is a virtue. In any event, the possibility of an IPO or takeover will continue to be one of the leading issues for Twitter watchers.

4. Is there any chance Twitter could encounter competition? Facebook has MySpace (sort of), Google has Bing, WordPress has Blogger, YouTube had Vimeo, and LinkedIn and Viadeo. Twitter has no one after Pownce got trounced a few years ago.

The question is whether Twitter is bullet-proof or, at least, competition-proof. Or maybe there’s a micro-blogging startup working out of someone’s basement on the best thing to hit social media since, well, Twitter.

Where do you think Twitter is going?

The Battle Between Twitter and the Ecosystem

What would happen if you built a really expensive house only to see a never-ending number of guests have more fun in it than you? After a while, you would probably kick most, if not all, of them out so you could enjoy the house and its amenities yourself.

It’s a scenario being experienced by Twitter, which has invested millions of dollars to create a platform that thousands of companies have happily leveraged. The biggest problem is that Twitter’s “house guests” are have a better and more profitable time, while Twitter is starting to wonder whether extending invitations was such a good idea.

In making its API readily available and encouraging a growing ecosystem of developers to create new services, Twitter allowed the platform to be more interesting, useful and valuable. In the process, however, it also created competitors who have done a better job of meeting the needs of Twitter users.

This “problem” was thrust into the spotlight last week when UberMedia acquired TweetDeck for $30-million. TweetDeck accounts for able 20% of Twitter usage, while other services such as HootSuite and Seesmic also have a lot of Twitters users. Meanwhile, Twitter.com has seen the number of users dwindle, mostly because it has far less features despite some improvements in recent months.

Now it would have made sense for Twitter to acquire TweetDeck but now that it’s in the hands of a rival that just raised $17.5-million, Twitter finds itself in an uncomfortable position in which it is starting to battle well-financed and aggressive rivals.

Going back to the house analogy, Twitter has thrown a wild party for the past few years but things are getting out of hand. The guests are have broken into the liquor cabinet, they’re making out with your sisters, and taking the family car for joyrides.

To gain control, Twitter needs to either kick everyone out or establish a new set of house rules. For Twitter, it could mean a few things.

One, it could take some of its venture capital to acquire some of the more interesting services such as HootSuite or TwitPic. Second, it could charge to change the economics of its API by making companies pay more for using it.

While Twitter does make revenue now from access to the API, it hasn’t done a great job of really monetizing it because it wanted to encourage developers to use it. The competitive landscape has changed so Twitter has to take a new approach that would still let people use the API but give Twitter more control and, as important, generate revenue.

Maybe Twitter needs to take some lessons from Facebook, which has done a much better job of managing its application ecosystem. Facebook seems to have no problems changing the rules when it sees something not going according to plan; Twitter may have to do the same soon, whether it likes it or not.

For more, check out GigaOm’s post on how UberMedia’s Bill Gross is positioning himself to be a kingmaker within the Twitter world after a series of Twitter-related acquisitions.

You’re Tweeting from Where?

One of the challenges in assessing Twitter-Land is getting an accurate picture of where users are located.

Right now, location is mostly determined by the information that people provide within their profiles. There are a few issues:

1. Not everyone provides their location information

2. Some people provide wrong information. For example, many users change their location to Tehran to support the political activists in Iran.

3. It can be difficult to assess location information if it’s written in non-English languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.

So, it’s exciting – if you’re into geography and geoloation – that Twitter is going to be introduce a new API that will lets developers add latitude and longitude to any update. In a blog post, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said:

“Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.”

If and when the new API gains traction – and users opt-in to having their locations made available – it will provide a much more accurate and interesting view of how and where Twitter is being used around the world.

For more thoughts, check out Fast Company’s blog on what Twitter could do with your location information, and Mashable’s list of five geolocation features it wants.

Here’s a chart from our Inside Twitter report that shows the countries where Twitter is being used the most. In future reports, we plan on providing more details about countries and cities.

sysomos-twitter-newusersbycountry