Twitter lock-in

With every day since Twitter’s new rules were announced, my opinion grows stronger that this is the end of the platform as we’ve known it for the last few years. It hurts that so much of what was pioneered by the developer community has been co-opted and trademarked and turned against developers. Nothing will change tomorrow; we can expect new versions of Tweetbot, Twitterrific, and my own app Tweet Library. But in the long run it’s a dead-end.

Lex Friedman, writing for Macworld:

“Some developers are notably hesitant to speak on the record, lest they incur Twitter’s wrath; the fear seems to be that since Twitter is now exerting more control than ever over access to its API—which developers leverage to make their Twitter apps work—that irking Twitter too much might result in a developer’s API access getting revoked.”

I have less at stake than developers with popular mainstream apps, so in a way I feel it’s my duty to speak out when it’s warranted, where others can’t. I’m quoted in Matthew Panzarino’s article on the Twitter API change, and I was interviewed for a radio spot on San Francisco’s KQED.

I could live with some of the API changes. I could live with the display requirements, even the user caps. Maybe I could live in a developer-hostile environment, finding a market niche far below Twitter’s radar. Except for two things:

  • “Timeline integrity”: The display guidelines say you can’t mix other content in a timeline of tweets. You can’t easily have a multi-platform app that shows both App.net posts and Twitter tweets in the same view.

  • Trademarks: You are allowed to use “Tweet” in the name of your app, but only if Twitter is the only service you support. You can’t add Facebook or App.net or Heello support alongside Twitter.

These are anti-competitive and unworkable. So I’ve decided to spin off Tweet Marker Plus, my paid web-based app that builds on top of the Tweet Marker sync engine. I’ll relaunch it with a new name, slowly introducing new features that aren’t tied exclusively to Twitter. For a hint of where it’s going, you can follow me on App.net.