That Twitter Thing

Twitter's caused a bit of a stir on the net, let alone on Twitter itself, just now. They've changed their API rules, and things aren't going to be quite so rosy for third party twitter apps from here on in. There have been a lot of accusations that Twitter has 'sold out' - and indeed, it seems to be putting it's need to generate an income over the service for which it has become renowned. There are a couple of things to consider though, before assuming all is doom and gloom.

Tapbots, makers of the (best ever) Twitter client Tweetbot, released a statement earlier today:

I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the idea of caps on the number of users, I feel that part of what makes the Twitter ecosystem interesting is the wide ranging apps available to it. I think we and others fill an important niche in that system not served by the current Twitter apps and would’ve much preferred to see some other approach.

This is the big deal. User restrictions. It does spell an interesting road ahead for twitter clients and Twitter have been vague on compliance with regards to increasing the user cap. Tapbots clearly don't see this as world ending, and believe they will be able to operate for a few years before crossing this hurdle. If you're using a third-party app currently, your user experience is for the most part pretty safe at the moment.

Tapbots also comment on the new display requirements:

We’ll be working with Twitter over the next 6 months to make sure we comply with these new requirements as much as possible. I don’t expect the changes to be huge, but we’ll keep everyone up to date as we know more.

So there may be some minor changes coming. It remains to be seen exactly what the scope of these changes will be.

The other thing to be mindful of is that this is Twitter's first real step onto the tightrope. While it's not everyone's favourite approach to monetisation this is the balancing act that they have chosen. Should their approach be too aggressive, then they tip too far one way and lose users. If there are fewer users, then advertisers will not be willing to pay the same premium to reach whomever is left. Twitter has time to revise and refine their policy, to provide guidance and clarification. Some folks need to get over their sense of betrayal, and remember that the users are what makes Twitter great and by and large we're all still here.

This doesn't mean that in a year we won't look back at this as the first nail in Twitter's coffin; see how this one plays out.