Are you an aspiring developer with a burning desire to build the next great Twitter client? If you are, Twitter has some sage advice for you: please don’t. In a statement sent out on its official developer mailing list, Twitter’s Ryan Sarver informed third-party developers that they shouldn’t build any more “conventional” third-party Twitter clients.
Is this sour grapes, or a sign of Twitter stomping on the efforts of a group that has, arguably, been responsible for a measure of the company’s success? According to Sarver, no:
Still, our user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions. For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter. Similarly, a number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even more. Users should be able to view, retweet, and reply to @nytimes’ tweets the same way; see the same profile information about @whitehouse; and be able to join in the discussion around the same trending topics as everyone else across Twitter.
Whatever the motivation, this is a pretty big change, which will have huge implications for future development (though it’s unclear if these changes will affect current apps). That said, around 90% of Twitter users interact with Twitter via first-party channels, so this may turn out to be a tempest in a teapot.