On Twitter Clients and Their Change in TOS

Update: The plot thickens. Sean Coates pointed out on Twitter this morning that the Twitter API announcement has been pulled, with no obvious response. Most of the mailing list message is still available in an article in the Guardian.

First, I’m not a developer of software. I make websites. I use Twitter. A lot sometimes. I have found the reaction to Twitter’s curious announcement in the change in their terms of service interesting. Granted, most reactions I have read are from developer types, so it may be biased. The sentiment could be summed up in a tweet I saw today, “Twitter: from #dickbar to #dickmove”. That basically Twitter added a new “feature” in their most recent mobile app that absolutely no one liked and users were abuzz with suggestions for other clients. Rather than listen to these users (granted, they did release a minor update that apparently mitigates to a degree the trending bar, coined by Gruber the dickbar) they simply decided to post to a mailing list telling developers to not plan on being able to create alternate clients. Poor timing? Possibly. They very well could have been planning this announcement for some time. Still seems odd.

But what if they had challenged themselves internally? “We are going to make such a kick ass experience for the desktop, mobile and web, users won’t bother with these imitators.” They could have looked at who was doing great things with the iPhone and the desktop and simply hired them to make their product better. Listened to their users to see what features these other clients were offering and make them better. Isn’t that what free-market competition should be all about? Not, “hey, thanks for helping build up our user base, now go screw yourselves.”

Ultimately, Twitter really reminded me that I don’t pay for it, so I can’t really bitch about it, and should remember my goal of Less Twitter, more me..