The continuing decline of Twitter
As I’ve written about before I love Twitter, the service, but I’m not very impressed by Twitter the company. Twitter wants to change that, Twitters claims they have changed. This time things will be different. The problem is that Twitter seems to have become even less likeable. A few days ago Twitter launched Digits, a service completely unrelated to their core product. Possibly because they don’t like the whole micro-blogging thing. Digits is a service to help people log in without emails or passwords (in detail over on the Verge).
The interesting part, to me, is how Twitter deals with developers.
Twitter now wants to reach out to developers, to tell us they’ve changed, by inviting us to a conference about what sounds like dev tools:
As a peace offering, Twitter on Wednesday is expected to announce a suite of tools that aim to make it easier for programmers to build apps, according to people familiar with the matter. - WSJ
But Twitter already burned developers severely a few years ago by closing down APIs. They burned developers so much that Marco Arment just wrote a scathing blog post arguing that we can’t trust them. And I think he’s right.
Responding to Marcos comments a Kevin Weil (“vice president of product for revenue”) tells the Verge:
He (Weil) named a few companies that have made millions of dollars developing on Twitter’s platform, including TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and the social-media monitoring company Radian6, which sold to Salesforce for $340 million. The changes in 2012 were intended only to ensure Twitter had control over its core service, he says. “Our API was so open that we allowed people to compete with us, and so there were changes we had to make.”
Wait. What is Weil saying here? That Twitter as a platform should only be available to companies who don’t make money? Or just the companies Twitter would like to make money? Or is Twitter NOT a platform at all, but a closed service that has an API just to taunt developers?
None of the services mentioned compete with Twitter as a platform or service. One could argue they had competitive UIs though. But shouldn’t all that traffic made it easy for Twitter to monetize? Perhaps sell higher volumes of API access? It’s hard to understand just what Weil intends to say with this strange answer. My only possible takeaway is that Twitter prefers its partners to not actually succeed.
I think this proves Marco’s point wonderfully. Twitter doesn’t want developers. Twitter is not a platform. And they want those meddling coder kids to stay off their lawn.