Twitter has obviously decided that the people who made their service popular are not that important to them. For quite some time, Twitter seemed to be catering to developers with a fairly good API that many used to build third party clients. However, they have continued to limit what the developers can do, with the latest incident being the daily follower limit.
If I knew what I could or couldn’t do on Twitter I could avoid it in the first place. Unfortunately Twitter hasn’t defined that and it’s pretty darn confusing, not to mention extremely risky, to write apps for the Twitter platform right now. With Facebook, on the other hand, I’m required to agree to a very specific agreement, and they’re very clear when they’re going to change any of the terms, giving developers plenty of warning. It’s well written out and well defined. It’s a platform with little risk and high reward for businesses because they give developers time to work with any changes they make to it.
The problem is that Twitter keeps restricting what developers can do. I have also written about this as a potential danger for a startup.
You want to push change for the better. You want to keep your customers as happy as possible. Enforcing new limits long after releasing features can just alienate your users. Some level of trust will be lost because it feels like they were tricked by your earlier kindness.
Because of these changes, Twitter has lost developers’ trust. I am sure that Jesse is already planning new SocialToo features that limit his dependency on the Twitter API. Many other applications will likely do the same. Thankfully, most of the third party clients have already integrated various services due to the demand from their users. Tweetdeck and Twhirl have already integrated Facebook support, which gives them a larger potential user population. What other applications will change course due to Twitter’s API changes?
Why are we seeing these changes? That seems to be the real question for most people. Personally, I have no clue. However, with the recent surge in popularity due to the Ashton Kutcher and Oprah publicity, maybe Twitter has decided to cater to a different audience. Maybe they are being drawn by the lure of celebrity. There is probably more money in the realm of celebrity, but that does not make your original supporters any happier.
[UPDATE] More Twitter ignoring developers nonsense as they have “temporarily disabled” OAuth support. Coverage by TechCrunch.