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Why Twitter Should Stay Out of the App Business 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the hard-to-write-an-app-in-140-characters dept.
waderoush writes "Twitter has come out with some impressive new tools this month — the Twitter app for iPhone/iPad on September 1, and the overhauled Twitter website, or #NewTwitter, this week. But Twitter is late to its own party, Xconomy argues today. #NewTwitter still lacks basics like photo uploading and URL shortening, and apps built by third-party developers like TweetDeck and Flipboard continue to provide more compelling ways to explore the information in a Twitter stream. While Twitter may finally be 'getting focused' on ways to achieve mass market growth, as former Twitter platform manager Alex Payne wrote this week, the company will have a hard time competing with its own developer community — and might do better instead to acknowledge, and focus on, the service's growing role as a general Internet utility."
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Why Twitter Should Stay Out of the App Business

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  • The article says it, but not in the way I want: by extending their own platform, they do hurt their third party developers. Presumably the idea they do it though is to be able to track that stuff for themselves, and presumably to try and "do it better" with better integration.

    I don't really use twitter, so I can't comment, but I ask of you who do: is this the case? Is what twitter is starting to offer "in house" better than what's available from 3rd party, or can they even improve on it enough and faster?

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:27PM (#33615456) Homepage

      Twitter needs to focus on their core service. It frequently goes offline, like many social services did when their growth was faster than expected (Friendster, LiveJournal, etc.)

      The lessons of other social networks should be a clue that focusing on infrastructure stability needs to be a priority. People will get used to a crappy interface -- just look at MySpace -- but will not put up with unstable service for long.

      • by h3 (27424) on Friday September 17, 2010 @06:33PM (#33616002) Homepage Journal

        > will not put up with unstable service for long.

        Here's where you are very wrong. Twitters service failures are legendary and persist to this day. And they are still around, bigger than ever.

        Just to give you a sense of how long people have put up with them: I "quit" Twitter in July of 2008 because of aggravation with their service failures which was already a running joke *THEN*. I thought for sure no way people would put up with that amount of downtime and unreliability.

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by nospam007 (722110) *

          ". Twitters service failures are legendary and persist to this day. "

          But how can people survive if they don't know what Madonna, Paris Hilton, (other useless bitch) ate for breakfast?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Infonaut (96956)

            That was a mean feat. You managed to marry ignorance of twitter (Madonna & Hilton aren't even in the top 25 for followers) with truly offensive misogyny. I know, I know. You're too busy getting laid to care, right?

            But how can people survive if they don't know what Madonna, Paris Hilton, (other useless bitch) ate for breakfast?

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Idiomatick (976696)
              I was curious so I decided I'd look up who the top watched were:

              1) Lady Gaga (attention whore pop star
              2) Britney Spears (Ditto ....
              So really the top two are pointless pop icon women. And you acted as if he was so far off base. LoL.

              3)Ashton Kutcher (male equivalent of above
              4)Obama (Actual important person!
              5) Justin Beiber (child version of #3


              Saying that twitter is for dumb people mindlessly following pop trash seems to be an accurate depiction in this same. 4/5 of the top 5 are pop stars of some so
              • So, no different than other forms of media with regards to the attraction to celebrities.
                And celebs seem a lot like other people in some ways, including the fact that some suck and some don't.

                The word *popular* exists for a reason, and anyway, there are all sorts of +1 interesting (or at least +1 funny) gems amongst smaller feeds.

              • by hkmwbz (531650)
                So what you are saying is that since most of the traffic online is porn, everyone is a porn dog, and everyone lookas at porn all the time? The internet can't possibly used by some for useful stuff, because the porn shows that it's all porn?
                • Nah. Its really the character limit that makes it useless.

                  It hasn't brought anything new to the table tech wise. The only leverage it has is user-base. And the top100 shows that the user-base isn't very desirable.

                  The only very very small niche where twitter has an advantage is real time groundswell news information. You get the 'pulse' of the people really fast for occurring events. With Geotagging it could be neat for a few projects. But that is only really valuable for cool animations. And bits of stra
                  • by hkmwbz (531650)
                    The character limit doesn't make it useless. It makes it different. And the good thing about this is that you have to make your summaries really brief, making it easier for other people to quickly browse through new stuff.

                    I don't really care about the top 100. I only care about what's interesting to me. Since I follow people I find to post interesting and useful stuff, Twitter is interesting and useful to me. I don't understand why you would point to the top 100 if you don't think they are interesting. It

              • You're right. The top followed people on twitter are celebrities.

                I was being glib about the top 25 thing, but it doesn't really who the top 25 are anyway. Does the fact that the NY Times Bestseller list is packed with trash mean that all book readers like John Grisham? Just as I could read books until the end of time without ever reading a bestseller, I could use twitter for as long as I lived without ever following a celebrity. I actually find twitter most useful for niche interests.

                Saying that a medium op

                • Books can be informative since they don't have an arbitrary restriction FROM being informative. 1 liners while cute and quotable are rarely informative.

                  If you can point me to a few valuable and informative twitter feeds that: do not simply feed human desires for pop knowledge which is in the end not useful (ie, knowing what the mars rover is doing is cool but not particularly educational) AND cannot be better served by being an RSS feed to a blog or newspaper. I will be impressed.

                  Sidenote: I'm aware of
      • Ubuntu needs to focus on its core experience. It frequently sinks into terrible desktop user experience, like many Linux distros did when their growth was faster than expected.

        The lessons of other distros should be a clue that focusing on infrastructure stability needs to be a priority. People will get used to a crappy interface -- just look at Gentoo -- but will not put up with unstable service for long. ... Fixed that for you!

      • In other words, "enough with the fail whale!". Indeed.
        Also, if you elect to have certain people's tweets sent through SMS to your phone, sometimes that doesn't work.

  • General Internet utility makes general internet utility revenues. They will find a way to squeeze out the developers' efforts and take in the big bucks from the service oriented applications.
  • Waste of effort (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:28PM (#33615464) Homepage

    There are a number of great twitter clients out there for pretty much every platform that connects to the Internet. At this point, Twitter as a company would be better served spending their money in beefing up their infrastructure, staving off spambots, and various other back-end stuff. What's the point in them spending money and time to create an "official" client? How would that actually earn them any money, compared to improving the quality of their service?

    • by MBCook (132727)

      If you use a 3rd party client, they can't show you as many ads.

      Thus, it's in their best interest if they can get you to use the site when you want to look at a quick update, or at least to try to prevent new users from moving onto other clients.

    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      An official client means they can follow in MS and Yahoo Messenger's footsteps: capitalize on rotating ad delivery. Ads are not enforced by alternative clients, simply because the IM delivery protocols weren't designed to deliver ads. Now, they want in on that, and perhaps later ban unofficial clients by breaking their backward compat if they're bold.

    • by Zizagoo (1848812)
      You've got your techie blinders on. Twitter.com is by far the most popular client by a huge margin, take a look for yourself http://blog.twitter.com/2010/09/evolving-ecosystem.html [twitter.com] With those figures, streamlining the web interface is a great investment, as the UI shapes usage patterns and perception. The new twitter screams "platform" from every pore, and is far more efficient at driving users to use it this way. By catching up feature wise, has set a new baseline for clients/connected services.
  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:34PM (#33615526) Journal

    Post subject represents what I would like to read.

    Oh eternal September!

  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:41PM (#33615608) Journal

    I'm not just picking on Twitter here, honestly. In fact, *most* of what's on the Internet shouldn't be a business. Before the Internet was commercial, DNS was developed via the RFC process. If the Internet had been commercialized before DNS, how many commercial "IP namer" services would we have? Likewise, if SMS had been common before the Internet was commercialized, something like Twitter would likely have been developed via the RFC process. Tweets probably would have been archived via a distributed protocol. Remember USENET? There was a distributed posting and archiving system for messages of considerably longer length. It was all specified via the RFC process. What is Twitter, but USENET with a protocol that enforces a maximum message length, IDs users, and has a non-distributed posting and archiving mechanism?

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Usenet is a protocol, but it has businesses behind it. Twitter is both at this point.

      Are you saying they should let their protocol be open and just be a single provider of that protocol? Seems to me they'd definitely hurt in the short run. And that would force them to go even further into the app-making business to stay afloat.

      • by istartedi (132515)

        No I'm not saying what Twitter should do. Twitter will do whatever it can to survive. That's its job.

        I'm saying I could replace my Twitter with alt.tweet.i.s.t.a.r.t.e.d.i where the USENET protocol is enhanced to only permit 140 characters and to limit posts under the alt.tweet hierarchy.

        If USENET can't handle that in its current form then of course the protocol would need some tweaks.

        Also, USENET, AFAIK, came to be regarded as an administrative hassle by a lot of ISPs. Everything moved under HTTP, and got

        • I finally read TFA (yeah, I know this is /., what was I thinking?)

          The VCs have funded Twitter to the tune of $160 million. Ouch.

          All is not lost. If Twitter is just USENET, and USENET died because the RFC process was slow to innovate and USENET servers were a PiTA to run, then the business model becomes apparent.

          Twitter should sell enhanced services to ISPs. They could reinvent USENET totally, and not just a short message hierarchy. For starters, make the current services distributed. Then, colocate w

  • Twitter? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Capt_Morgan (579387)
    Do people actually use Twitter? I just don't get it... seems like one of the most useless things ever
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by larry bagina (561269)

      I consider it an improvement. Instead of not reading a 10 paragraph blog, I can now not read a 140-character snark.

      But seriously, I think twitter has ruined the web. Not twitter itself, but other people's integration with twitter. Used to be, you had a blog or news story or something, people would comment on it. 99.99% of the time, I won't ever see the blog and won't give a a shit. But let's say I do and I do. Instead of some potentially interesting comments, I see "@zyx retweeted this". Or "xyz l

    • Re:Twitter? (Score:4, Informative)

      by istartedi (132515) on Friday September 17, 2010 @06:39PM (#33616034) Journal

      I actually use it quite a bit. I follow a few, carefully chosen people. Of all the "Web 2.0" stuff, Twitter is the one that stuck. I like the simplicity of it. A short character limit is twisted genius. I don't tweet every day. I'm not following anybody who posts their location all the time or tweets about their grocery shopping.

      That said, I understand it's not everybody's cup of tea. I feel the same way about FaceBook that some people feel about Twitter. I tried FB for a while, and it just seems to have a way of making everybody look like a drunken idiot.

      It seems like it's possible to find quite a few people on Twitter who tweet appropriately, and tweet interesting things. It hasn't been infected with *ville applications yet.

    • Re:Twitter? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday September 17, 2010 @07:20PM (#33616292) Homepage Journal

      I consider twitter to be a helpful engine for serendipitous discovery. Sometimes I want to search for information, sometimes I want information to come to me from interesting people. The first time I tried twitter I didn't get it, but I had the nagging suspicion that I wasn't using it in a way that would make it useful. So when I came back to it a few months later, I thought of it as an information stream I could dip into when I felt like discovering something new.

      • The first time I tried twitter I didn't get it, but I had the nagging suspicion that I wasn't using it in a way that would make it useful. So when I came back to it a few months later, I thought of it as an information stream I could dip into when I felt like discovering something new.

        Ok, then maybe you can clue me in on the secret...? Because the first time I tried twitter, I didn't get it, but had a nagging suspicion that I wasn't using it in a way that would make it useful. The second time I tried, I had the same experience. I've tried a few more times, and each time I feel like I don't get it.

        I get facebook, at least, in that it's relatively easy to find your real-life friends and keep in touch with them. Most of what people post is a bit inane, but I can find the phone number o

        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          by Stele (9443)

          So I have a twitter account. What the hell am I supposed to do with it?

          Start reporting your bowel movements? Hell if I know either.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hkmwbz (531650)

          So I have a twitter account. What the hell am I supposed to do with it?

          Follow people who have interesting things to say. Share interesting stuff you find.

      • by abhi86 (1902192)
        I also thought that twitter should think about their services.They need to improve their technology by implementing new ideas & techniques.
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Just go to google, type in some random letters and hit I'm feeling lucky.

        I'm fairly sure that even doing that once will result in at least 10 times the amount of useful information on the first results page than contained in every bit of data that twitter has.

        • by hkmwbz (531650)
          Twitter is what you use it for. If you subscribe to people who have interesting things to say, you will receive interesting stuff. You seem to think that Twitter just randomly throws stuff at you. It doesn't. You control your own information flow, so if you are unable to get anything useful out of it, you are the one with a problem.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      I once thought Twitter was useful, but I found Twitter is very useful for me. www.twitter.com/faithclubdotnet
      As a Christian, I like to find like minded Christians and to tell non-Christians about the joy and exceeding highs God can give(also eternal life).
      I've found a job through Twitter because my tweets got retweeted by a Sky Angel employee to an indie start up video game development company. I've been working with TangerinePop.com now for about a year, but my project started in March of this year. W
      • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
        Thats what I get for not using preview. The first sentence is supposed to read,"I once thought Twitter was not useful". The funny thing is I also thought TeamLiquid.Net was a useless site too, but that is where I met my coauthor Victor Nunez. We were both #1 in the world(at different times) for Warcraft3 and we explained how we evangelized to people in game. We were planning on doing it again in Starcraft2, but he has school, and I have that job I got through Twitter. Maybe later I'll get into SC2 seri
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        For once someone on slashdot has a nickname that seems fitting.

        I'm a religious person, raised catholic actually ...

        With that in mind ... you do realize that you are so clearly over the top a religious nut job that no one anywhere will ever possibly take you seriously unless they too happen to be off their rockers ... right?

        You seriously just posted that silly drivel on slashdot, a place with plenty of anti-religion nutjobs who wlll be happy to rip you a new one for talking silly ...

        The only thing surprising

      • I couldn't think up a long prayer so I prayed,"God, I hope everything is cool", in less than a second, without knowing my prayer, my coauthor IMed me,"Everything is cool".

        so your coauthor is god?

        i can see that coming in handy!

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Twitter is just a tool for stalking celebs. You may think that's me dismissing it, but it's actually a really great tool for that purpose. Your first "lol xxx" from some 3rd rate Z lister is worth the price of entry, plus there's always the holy grail of concern-trolling the crap out of Wil Wheaton and watching him have a public noob-fit [typepad.com]. Happy days.
    • by asylumx (881307)
      Seriously, every time there's a story on /. about facebook or twitter someone just can't resist but point out that they don't use it or think it's worthless... Please can this retarded meme die now?

      It reminds me of this article from The Onion... [theonion.com]
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      It does appear to have its uses but what troubles me most is that some people feel the pressing need to use it to implement bad copies of existing technologies. I've seen Twitter as an IPC platform (after all, nobody ever said that tweets must be human-readable!) and, most annyoingly, as an RSS replacement. Because 140 characters of unformatted text are apparently superior to well-structured arbitrarily rich markup that has space for a description.

      Of course there's the companion gripe of some developers u
      • by hkmwbz (531650)

        I've seen Twitter as an IPC platform

        It isn't. And Twitter isn't RSS either. It's something different, and has its uses.

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          That's my point. Twitter is useful to some people. I personally don't use it but I know they do. However, some developers have this weird idée fixe that Twitter and its mannerisms supersede all other forms of online communication. Thus you see autotweeting devices and programs, programs that exchange data via Twitter and websites that assume that just because they can announce site updates through tweets they should do so.

          It's not Twitter itself that annoys me, it's how some people abuse it.
          • by hkmwbz (531650)
            Some people will abuse anything. You might as well be annoyed with the internet as a whole!

            I don't actually notice anyone annoying me at Twitter. I only follow people I'm interested in reading stuff from. And I don't give a crap about everything else.

            • by Jesus_666 (702802)
              Again, it's not people doing annoying things on Twitter, it's people using Twitter as a poor substitute for other technologies. It doesn't happen very often and it's far from the most annoying thing on the net; it's more an example of how for any given technology someone will have a bad idea on how to use it. For the one site where I do miss an RSS feed I just wrote a scraper that builds one for me. Problem solved.

              The pointless use of URL shorteners is a bit more annoying but it doesn't happen often enoug
  • Getting focused? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:35AM (#33618052)

    Seriously ... using the word focused in relation to a website/service that doesn't allow messages long enough to really even complete a thought in writing?

    Twitter is entirely about serving people with absolutely no focus what so ever. Seems like 'focusing' would be exactly what they don't want to do.

    Of course, I think twitter is about the dumbest service I've ever seen. It was a retard solution to the fact that phones had a no useful email client really because for some odd reason, no one has realized that a proper imap setup is all thats needed to get 'push' messaging. Twitter made sense before everyone that texted had phones that were more than capable of using a real alternative that actually allows to you complete at least one thought in a single message.

    • by neumayr (819083)
      It's easy to bash Twitter, but the message length isn't a very good attack vector. People have been using SMS for quite a while now, they're accustomed to expressing themselves in short messages. Also, nobody expects you to communicate complete thoughts through Twitter messages, it's for communicating bits of information to an audience - which may or may not make up a train of thought.
      Comparing that to email is doesn't make sense either, as Twitter messages are intended for a larger audience than email is.
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Most sane people also think texting rather than just making a phone call is rather stupid.

        Texting is almost as useless as twitter. Again, you don't need to text, any sane email server/client does push, AND its freaking reliable unlike text messages and twitter. Its fully distributed and theres no ties to any single company.

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