Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Twitter developers: quit whining and innovate!

Twitter has always been very developer friendly. With an open API and tons of tools and documentation to help new client developers get up to speed quickly, it might arguably be the most developer friendly service on the Internet. The service has always maintained good relations with third party developers who've extended its basic web based service and brought it to exciting places like the desktop, the mobile phone, and even, plants and beer mugs.

But now, that seems to have changed overnight. With the announcement of Twitters acquisition of client developer Tweetie, the company has set itself on a direct collision course with other client developers and might have changed the developer-company relationship forever. For the first time, Twitter will directly compete with the very developers it's long held are the key to its success. Will this mean that the service will become less developer friendly and more closed? Is it a bad thing if it does?

I've long held the belief that Twitter isn't a benevolent ecosystem. The company is there to eventually make money and give their investors a return. While it's nice that they've been so great to third party developers, it's unrealistic to expect that they never expand their service to include features long supported by third party apps.

That's growth.
That's evolution.
That's business.

Developers, a painful as this might be for you to accept, Twitter is not there to help your business grow. Their primary concern is not your bottom line. They are an investment driven company who's only, single concern is and should be to make money. And they have the right to do that in any way they see fit. If that squeezes third party developers out, too bad. Innovate, redefine, and move forward. Quit whining about hour unfair Twitter is being. Twitter isn't here to be fair to you and, if you really think they are, then software development probably isn't the business you should be in.

Don't get me wrong, I understand why developers are feeling betrayed and a bit confused right now. While Twitter never directly said it wouldn't compete against third party developers, it definitely gave that impression by all the developer friendly hoopla it puts out. Still, at the end of the day, we need to remember that Twitter is a company that is no different in its mission than Microsoft, Oracle, or any other company on the planet. Making money and surviving is the prime directive. Nothing else really matters.

Get over it, developers.
It's time for something new.