Well, it is finally official, TweetDeck has been purchased, but not by UberMedia. Twitter swooped in and made the final purchase. There are some obvious reasons for the purchase, as told in the TweetDeck announcement:
The mainstream Twitter user-base is well catered for by twitter.com and the official mobile clients. And by becoming part of the official platform, TweetDeck will now fill that role for brands, influencers, the highly active and anyone that just needs “more power”.
Twitter has been looking for a way to get into the brand and enterprise arena, and TweetDeck could be their ticket into the game. However, there can always be more to the purchase than what is obvious. First, Twitter has made it abundantly clear that you should not be developing third-party clients anymore. With this acquisition, there is really little room for a basic Twitter client. A new client would have to include a bunch of features, similar to what HootSuite is doing.
So, what else does Twitter benefit from? Let’s look at my post on why UberMedia wanted to purchase TweetDeck. There are a few things that make TweetDeck very interesting:
- TweetDeck is on major desktop platforms, iOS, and Android.
- TweetDeck has a very interesting multi-column web application.
- TweetDeck created Deck.ly which allows for longer tweets.
- TweetDeck can be branded, as has been shown in the past.
The first two items allow Twitter to keep its main website and mobile clients very simple. TweetDeck is for power users, so if someone wants more functionality than the basic Twitter applications, they can move over to TweetDeck.
Deck.ly gives Twitter something that can be very interesting. One of the major complaints about Twitter is the 140-character limit. In many cases, the forced brevity is a useful constraint, but there are times when a longer tweet is really needed. This long tweet functionality from Deck.ly could help Twitter expand into a small blogging platform similar to Tumblr in some ways. The idea would be that you could post your thoughts, maybe in 500 characters, and they would appear on a simple page that looks like a normal single tweet page, like my congratulatory tweet.
The fourth point above is where things get interesting. TweetDeck can be branded, which is a nice feature but not something to build a business on. However, what if you took the not-yet-released analytics product, more trending information and the existing custom branding, and mash all that together? Basically, you have something very similar to HootSuite, and other social media management platforms. Granted this combination of features would definitely get TweetDeck into more enterprise customers because they have a default advantage of being the official Twitter management platform. The only problem with this direction is that it is exactly what they told developers to be building:
They have asked developers to focus on applications for curation, real-time data signals, social CRM and other vertical and value-add solutions. This is where the real money can be found as well. When you have a third-party client, it would be very difficult to charge people a fee. HootSuite can do it because they have a ton of features in addition to being a Twitter client.
Yes, with this acquisition announcement, there will be plenty of rumors and predictions. If Twitter was smart, they would attack this problem immediately. The third-party developers will be wondering if there is any area of the Twitter eco-system that is safe to develop. Analytics is being addressed internally by Twitter. Trends are also being developed internally. With the TweetDeck acquisition, it would be too easy to add in social CRM features. In reality, developers are left with few options. There is still curation that can be developed, and there are strong competitors in that space. Vertical solutions and other value-added applications are really just using Twitter as one signal or data point, so they are not really Twitter applications, they just include Twitter information as part of the application.
As a developer using the Twitter API, I am a bit torn on the TweetDeck acquisition. On the business side, this makes a lot of sense and I like the idea of TweetDeck being an official Twitter client. On the developer side, I continue to wonder whether Twitter cares about its developer ecosystem outside of how it can help themselves.