Twitter have an interesting history when it comes to third party applications able to access the service. Two years ago, Twitter seemingly started a war against thirty party Twitter application developers by limiting the features that they could access on the platform. Worse, Twitter implemented the amount of users that a given third party application could support thanks to a “login token” idea. At the time, a number of promising applications were hamstrung by Twitter’s policies, such as Falcon Pro: the decision seemed to be about forcing users to use the official Twitter application, which for many people simply was not good enough (and of course flies in the face of the concept of third party applications).
In two years, Twitter has struggled with a number of factors such as how to commercialize the platform. The business is now seeking a new Chief Executive Officer and has come out and stated that the actions taken in 2013 around third party applications were a “strategic error.” Co-founder and board member, Evan Williams, said this on the matter: “[restricting third party applications was] one of our strategic errors we had to wind down over time. It wasn’t a win / win for developers, users and the company … Twitter should be more of a platform than it is.There are a lot of things going on. New products, new source of revenue.” It seems that Twitter’s objective to transform the business into something of a real time information network, and of course stakeholders needing to see revenue growth, has helped change the mindset of the board. Evan’s statement appears to imply that Twitter is seeking to open itself up as more of an open platform for developers, presumably providing Twitter can take a cut.
It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds over the coming months, as there are many developers out there who will have long memories when it comes to Twitter’s slap-down over third party application development. Will Twitter’s new Chief Executive be able to persuade the development community that the business has changed in the last two years? And for those users who have installed the official Twitter client, perhaps the opening up of the platform to third party developers will encourage more competition with the official application and improve this going forwards? We will keep you informed of developments.