After weeks of rumors, it looks like it's finally a done deal: Twitter is buying TweetDeck, the popular third-party client for the microblogging service.
Now, the sale isn't official yet, mind you -- thus far, neither company has publicly commented on a transaction -- but all signs suggest the writing's on the wall. Monday night, CNNMoney reported that the acquisition was complete, with Twitter paying more than $40 million to bring TweetDeck under its wing. Tech blog The Next Web separately reached the same conclusion, citing its own unnamed sources.
Provided that everything pans out and Twitter does, in fact, become the proud new owner of TweetDeck, I'd like to submit a simple but passionate plea to the company's top brass:
Please don't screw with TweetDeck. We like it.
Now, I know: The notion of a company buying a successful piece of software and then screwing it up seems absurd. But when you think about it, it also seems all too plausible.
Twitter has, after all, been on a collision course with third-party developers for quite some time. The company appears to be working to take back control over its ecosystem, enabling it to provide a more uniform user experience (and maybe make a few shekels along the way, too). Ever since Twitter started building out its own mobile apps and Web-based interface, it's been pushing hard for users to use those tools.
So after an acquisition, would Twitter kill TweetDeck altogether? That doesn't seem likely. It might, however, merge some of TweetDeck's features with existing Twitter services -- or discontinue some of the components altogether.
Think about it: Twitter already has official smartphone apps for Android and iOS. Why would it make sense to continue funding, developing, and offering another series of slightly different apps for those platforms?
On the Web front, Twitter has made major changes to its own site in order to convince users to spend more time there. So why would it want to continue working on a separate Web app that conflicts with that mission?
Then there's the desktop app -- the piece of the puzzle that worries me the most. I have TweetDeck's desktop app open on my second monitor all day, every day. It's a huge part of my workflow (or, on many occasions, the lack thereof). Maybe Twitter would want to keep TweetDeck around as an officially sanctioned desktop solution. But would it want to maintain the integration with competing services like Facebook and Foursquare under its company banner? Would it be in Twitter's best interest to leave TweetDeck's robust customizability in place? Even if "customizability" were a real word, I'm not so sure it would.
So Twitter, I realize this plea may be in vain, but I'm asking nevertheless: Please leave TweetDeck alone. The last thing I want is to be stuck using a Twitter client designed by a clueless celeb like Ashton Kutcher or -- gasp! -- Lady Gaga.
Just imagine what that experience would be like...