Before we get into the changes that Twitter has made to its iOS and Android apps, it’s important to consider just how many people actually use the official Twitter experience over third party providers like HootSuite and others. I found some ancient statistics (over a year old) which claim 42% of Twitter users used unofficial apps but that was not looking at mobile solely. Reliable statistics in these areas can be hard to come by for sure.
With mobile use exclusively this kind of data is even harder to track down. Regardless of who is using what though, it’s likely that Twitter is more interested in everyone using native Twitter mobile apps moving forward which further indicates their march to limit third party development around the platform. If the latest tweaks to the mobile experience are any indicator then that is a fair guess.
All Things D reports
Twitter launched an update to its mobile apps on Tuesday, introducing a host of new, minor features for iOS and Android smartphones.
Most interesting in the update, however, is one feature that stands out within the app: Push notifications, a feature that was previously available in the official Twitter app via SMS. Also, users can receive notifications on other actions while using the Twitter app, like mentions and retweets. Why so interesting? Because they’re added bonus features found in Tweetbot, the much-loved third-party Twitter client. Only Twitter expands upon this, allowing you to receive notifications for when specific individuals tweet or retweet from their accounts.
These are small details, yes. But it’s yet another signal that Twitter is taking charge of its official applications, incorporating features that many have sought in outside clients that emulate the Twitter stream. These are just the type of features that the company doesn’t want to see proliferating through the use of its open APIs, as Twitter product manager Michael Sippey made abundantly clear in a recent, controversial blog post.
Oh so you want to know about the changes coming to the iOS and Android apps? Ooops, got caught up in the bigger picture there. Sorry.
The Twitter blog tells us these new enhancements will be rolled out over time for native Twitter iOS and Android apps.
Since we introduced expanded Tweets on twitter.com, we’ve added several new partners like MLB and C-SPAN to a diverse and growing list of media sources. Starting today, you can also expand Tweets on Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android. When you tap a Tweet linking to a Kickstarter project, for example, you can play its video directly from the Tweet details view in your app
Now you can discover the best Tweets and photos for events experiences like twitter.com/#NASCAR on your iPhone. Now, Twitter for iPhone complements any live event, whether you’re watching from home or from the stands.
Speaking of search, we’ve made major improvements in search autocomplete so that you will see more suggestions when you search for people. As before, you can search for real names or @usernames before you complete your query.
While it’s always been possible to receive Tweets via SMS from your favorite Twitter accounts, these new versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android support push notifications for Tweets.
So what’s this all mean? It’s just likely that Twitter is seeing that in order for the company to capitalize on its revenue opportunities it needs to get as many of their users weaned off of third party providers who will cut into the number of people using Twitter’s apps which is where the advertising will occur. Twitter is simply experiencing the trouble with the ‘free and ubiquitous in order to achieve scale’ model. They gave up a lot to get a lot and now they are trying to essentially do the online equivalent of herding cats in order to make sure this is ultimately all theirs. I bet developers don’t see it that way but I am not too sure just how concerned Twitter is about their feelings.
If you are a third party provider of expanded Twitter services and that is your only business, the past few weeks should be making you very nervous and you may want to consider revisiting the drawing board early and often. As for the rest of us, it is becoming more and more likely that many of the benefits of third party providers in the Twitter space will be rolled into the native Twitter experience over time for, you guessed it, the money.
How do want your Twitter? Do you rely on third party apps and if they were to find it too hard to exist in Twitter’s new world order would you be concerned?