Social networking software

Twitter Launches Bidding War for TweetDeck

Suddenly TweetDeck is a hot commodity.

On Monday, Twitter was reported by the Wall Street Journal to be in "advanced talks" to buy TweetDeck, provider of a popular Twitter client, for about $50 million.

If true, the news would be a surprise to execs at UberMedia, who have reportedly been negotiating their own deal to buy TweetDeck.

A move to buy TweetDeck would be the latest sign of a battle brewing between Twitter, the popular microblogging site, and UberMedia, which owns several popular applications that run on the Twitter platform.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said it's no surprise that these two companies are coming at each other hard. UberMedia is looking to move into Twitter's space and Twitter is trying to defend the territory it's already built up.

The rivalry started to heat up in February when Twitter suspended UberMedia's three major third-party mobile applications -- UberSocial, Twidroyd and UberCurrents -- from use on its site for allegedly violating its use policies. Twitter reinstated access to the three apps a day later.

Then to make matters even more interesting, CNN.com reported last week that UberMedia is building a microblogging service that would compete directly with the Twitter service.

For months, industry experts have said that UberMedia was in the process of buying TweetDeck, which competes directly with Twitter's Web and mobile clients.

"[Twitter] certainly doesn't want to see anyone do an end run and use one of the most popular [Twitter] clients to steal their customers," said Enderle. "So I see this as largely a defensive but necessary move if they wish to hold on to their base."

Enderle also noted that without TweetDeck, UberMedia would have a harder time building a Twitter competitor.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said a move by Twitter to buy TweetDeck would be both offensive and a defensive.

"A popular piece of multi-service client software like TweetDeck is an opportunity to channel users to your site," said Gottheil. "If Twitter owns it, they can keep UberMedia away from it. That's defensive. It can also attract users to Twitter. That's offensive."

Twitter's PR operation posted a tweet saying they don't comment on rumors.

Neither UberMedia nor TweetDeck responded to requests from Computerworld for comment.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

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