Social networking software

Twitter Responds to Developers' Concerns

Sarver is, in effect, saying that third-party developers' application-names aren't beginner-friendly enough, so the company is pushing its own applications in front of the rest to hopefully build the overall Twitter user base. And Twitter's own apps will be free.

The average Twitter beginner probably can't tell the difference between "Twitter App A" and "Twitter App B," so if "App A" is free, she's going to skip the purchase of "App B" every time. At least that's the way I see it. Sure, folks who start off using a free Twitter for iPhone/BlackBerry app could, over time, get curious about other commercial (not free) apps, but what percentage will actually pay for one of the them? Especially when Twitter says its apps are the best.

Twitter is a VERY simple service, and users really only need the ability to check timelines and send "tweets," which can be done via any Twitter app. And once a user gets comfortable with one particular app, he's likely to stay with it for no other reason than it is familiar.

The timing of Twitter's moves also seems noteworthy to me, since it apparently decide to enter the Twitter-app game only recently; the company let third-party app developers gain loyal users for more than a year before stepping in and trying its own hand with a free app.

More from Sarver's e-mail:

"As we work to provide the best possible Twitter experience on all of the major mobile platforms, momentum will increase dramatically"

I think this statement is particularly telling. If Twitter really does offer the "best possible…experience on all major platforms," and for free, why would anyone pay for third-party apps? Twitter adoption, or "momentum," if you will, is already increasing dramatically. But the company's recent support for Tweetie and Twitter for BlackBerry could simply redirect that momentum away from third-party app-developers, toward Twitter itself.

That sounds to me like a clear opportunity for Twitter--and a clear threat to third-party developers.

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