It's time once again to play a broken record. Last September I predicted that Facebook and Twitter would increasingly start to tighten the grips on their ecosystems, alienating app developers:
Facebook and Twitter will happily let barnacle-like startups cling to their hulls ... for a while. These startups, flush with VC cash, busy themselves figuring out clever hacks and complementary services that satisfy unmet consumer demand. Facebook and Twitter watch and learn, and then, if it serves their purposes, they stoically move to scrape the barnacles off while absorbing their ideas and business models, while cheerfully saying, "Hey, barnacles, we're still friends, right?!"
Really, it's just smart business. As for the barnacles, let's face it: They're nothing without a hull to cling to, and they had to see this coming.
Lately, Twitter's been most aggressive about clarifying its barnacle-tolerance policies. Last month it briefly blocked UberMedia's popular Twitter clients UberTwitter and Twidroyd for various "compliance issue" reasons, including the fact that Twitter didn't like how those apps were monetizing tweets -- not to mention its annoyance at the very name UberTwitter (which UberMedia quickly changed to UberSocial).
And then last Friday, Twitter platform lead Ryan Sarver really laid down the law in a post titled "Consistency and Ecosystem Opportunities." As Sarver wrote, "If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you do not violate users' privacy, that you provide consistency in the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of Service."
In other words: Behave, little barnacles! Also, as cranky as the barnacle community may be, at least Twitter offered good news for existing big third-party Twitter clients: They're safe (for now, at least).
Which brings me to this week's charticle data -- produced, as always, with our editorial partner Trendrr, the social-media monitoring service. Given that the interactive portion of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin just wrapped up yesterday, we were curious about what Twitter clients SXSW obsessives use. (Remember, Twitter first really blew up big at SXSW 2007.)
Trendrr analyzed the stream of tweets that name-checked SXSW (including the hashtag #SXSW) over the past five days and determined which Twitter clients they came from. Excluding tweets sent directly from Twitter's website, here's the Top 10 (tweet volume appears in parentheses):
- Twitter for iPhone (59,792)
- TweetDeck (49,062)
- Twitterfeed (39,078)
- Foursquare (38,939)
- HootSuite (23,986)
- Echofon (17,918)
- Twitter for Blackberry (13,606)
- Twitter for Android (11,596)
- Twitter for iPad (11,218)
- UberSocial (11,086)
Even among the SXSW-loving crowd -- which has historically helped third-party apps gain traction -- official Twitter apps, across various platforms, are cumulatively huge. Taken together with tweets sent directly from its site, Twitter and its official client apps dominate.
But, hey, if you're, say, a HootSuite user, go ahead and keep using it -- and just hope that its makers stay on Twitter's good side.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.