Why Twitter will never make a great twitter app

My reaction to the news today that Twitter today is changing their policies to further discourage 3rd party twitter clients (among several other things): according to The Next Web and the twitter developer’s blog itself.

I predict (and it’s certainly true so far) that Twitter will never make an Twitter client app that I like as much as I like Tweetbot and here’s why:  The official Twitter app must be appropriate for all users.  With a user population as high as Twitter has there is no single set of features or even UI/UX design that will be right for all users.  People are different.  They learn differently.  Their definition of what is “intuitive” is different.  They use Twitter in different ways and for different reasons. As a result the features needed and the way they are presented are different for various sub-populations of the Twitter user-base.  I assert that no single app can meet all these needs well.  Certainly Twitter has yet to produce such an app.

Further, I do not understand why “how we’re working to deliver a consistent Twitter experience” makes any sense at all.  Twitter has so many users that there IS no single experience that is appropriate for or that would be desirable for all users.  The statement above by Michael Sippey seems to clearly miss the power of an application/service that can support the wonderful diversity of the human race with all it’s varied needs and desires.

By effectively cutting off 3rd party client apps (yes, it’s not an instant cut-off, just a slow strangle; same medium-term effect), Twitter is going to make their service less appealing to many large groups of their users.  That’s the beginning of the end and their investors should be pressuring them to figure out a better way to make money because this is a mistake.

And yes, I do understand that Twitter needs to make money.  That said, surely there are other ways to do it.  App.net raising $500,000 at $50+ per supporter for a product that doesn’t even really exist yet is a pretty good indication that some users are willing to pay directly for the Twitter service.  I’m not saying app.net is going to succeed (they may or they may not), but this does tell us something about at least one segment of the market.  The number of ad-ridden apps in the iOS app store clearly suggests that for some users ads are fine (not for me!).

I’m sad about this because I’ve made quite a few friends via Twitter in the last few years but I can’t stand to use the twitter iOS client and don’t expect to ever like it for the reasons outlined above.  That means in time I will likely end up not using twitter any longer.  I prefer twitter over Facebook but even if twitter dies for me (seems likely at this point), I doubt I’ll switch to Facebook or Google+.  I wonder what will replace it? Possibly app.net, though I guess that’ll depend on how good the clients are for it and how many of my friends move there…

I wish I lived in SF and that I could sit down with the Twitter decision makers because I’d love to help them solve this problem in a way that doesn’t result in them becoming the MySpace of the this decade, which is what I suspect will happen.  Hopefully I’m wrong but…




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