Twitter makes sweeping changes to its API – is it control freakery?
Twitter have announced some significant changes, being brought into to version 1.1 of their API. The most controversial of these is the setting of an effective limit on how many users a third party client can have.
The idea seemingly to encourage people to use the official apps (which, as was ironically pointed out by Josh Gruber, started life as third party apps).
This is Jobsian control freakery from Twitter. Little more than a way of the company making sure you see Tweets how they want you to see them, and more importantly see the ads they and their partners want you to see.
Twitter will also about a cap on the amount of users that third party apps can have.
“The maximum limit is 100,000 users, unless special permission is given by Twitter. If a client has more than 100k users currently, it can only ever grow to 200% of that. If users of the apps de-authorize their tokens for those apps, then they’re added back to that pool.”
As with all social networking technology, this problem of monetisation is particularly significant to Twitter in the mobile space, and Marco Arment speculates that their may be some significant upgrades to the iPad app.
Their has been particular controversy around popular services Favstar.fm and Storify, both of which would come into conflict with the new rules set out by Twitter.
Platform Director Ryan Sarver did though Tweet that those were exactly the kind of apps the company was keen to keep working with:
— Ryan Sarver (@rsarver) August 17, 2012
Many conversations online around these changes are speculating that developers and entrepreneurs will stop building businesses on Twitter as a result of these changes. Ardent, who created Instapaper, said:
I sure as hell wouldn’t build a business on Twitter, and I don’t think I’ll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore.
And if I were in the Twitter-client business, I’d start working on another product.
Twitter built up organically. Early adopters, not Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, created features such as hashtags that we now take for granted. Closing the ecosystem in these vague way may help revenue, or it may slow down innovation on the Twitter platform, and come back to haunt the company.