Twitter heading for clash with app developers


TWITTER’S entry into the smartphone applications market means it must act swiftly to avoid alienating third-party application developers that have been crucial to its success, warned Ovum, an industry researcher.

A new report by the independent technology analyst states that Twitter’s relationship with the developer community is becoming increasingly strained as the social networking site rolls out its own mobile applications.

Ovum believes Twitter should urgently provide developers with a clear roadmap of where its own in-house development efforts are heading in order to re-establish harmony.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum and report author, said: “As Twitter matures, it is inevitable that the company will want to produce or acquire more in-house applications, and there is always a certain inherent tension between developers and platform owners.

“However, Twitter needs to be very careful not to alienate the developer community because they drive innovation for the service and also traffic. It should be remembered that applications account for 75% of all tweets,” she said according to a press release from Ovum.

“Developers do not want to go to the trouble and cost of building an app if Twitter itself is going to make a big play for same area. This is exactly what Twitter appears to be doing with its in-house applications for smartphones, and the Tweetie application it acquired in April stands out as a case in point.”

Last month Twitter announced there were 100,000 applications for the site — double the number available five months earlier in December 2009.

At Chirp, its inaugural developer conference, the company told developers that it wants to focus on services that enhance the platform’s “core experience.”

“On the face of it, this is not great news for developers because enhancing the core Twitter experiences is exactly what most third-party applications do,” said Zoller.

“For example, a core experience that Twitter is considering taking a direct hand in is rich media, such as videos and photos. It also plans to launch a URL link shortener.

“The implication is that developers should look to innovate more in verticals and other areas that they have not traditionally tapped into. This might appear harsh but there is logic behind the argument.

“The first Twitter applications are well established, and as the Twitter platform matures developers will need to be more creative,” Zoller said.

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