When you play with an 800-pound
gorilla, sometimes, you have to accept that the gorilla will inadvertently
stomp on you. After a couple months spent researching a possible strategic
realignment, we have decided that it would not be reasonable to spend more
time and money on Twitterified, at least not in its current incarnation.
On April 4th 2010, Fred Wilson, who is on Twitter’s board of directors, sent a very clear message to application developers: stop writing applications that “fill holes in the Twitter product.”
Emphasizing his point, Twitter quickly went on to buy Tweetie and declaring it its official client.
So, what’s a bad position to be in today? Well, it would certainly not be a good idea to offer a product that handles longer Tweets and external pictures or captures video. Uh-oh.
Now, do not get me wrong: there was a market for that and Twitterified’ and other players’ success clearly demonstrate that. But now, Twitter has looked at these extras, decided that they are good, and is taking over.
Of course, they cannot be blamed for doing so: they have long been in search
of a good business model therefore it would be foolish to begrudge them a
(not-so) sudden change of direction. As Twitter’s popularity exploded, they
have let third-party developers play with the platform while focusing on
keeping up with their infrastructure growth.
As a company, Twitter is responsible to its shareholders and “filling the holes” through acquisitions seems to be just the most reasonable move they could have made this year.
Other “long tail” companies, at least the ones who do not focus on “filling holes” but rather on using Twitter as part of an “open social” strategy, should not fear Twitter’s recent moves.
Our other focus was to sell turnkey solutions to the enterprise; after all, Twitterified can be used with your private servers. The good people at Status.Net (formerly Laconi.ca) seem to have made this approach work for themselves. Unfortunately, it seems easy to overestimate the size of that market. Players like Yammer have been fairly successful thanks to an incredibly appealing approach to the enterprise market: let the employees easily build the network and management will follow. I am convinced that this was the right approach and these guys mastered it.
So, what’s going to happen to Twitterified?
The server infrastructure will remain in place in the foreseeable future. We may eventually open-source it.
The client itself was open-sourced several months ago and anyone is free to fork, modify and repackage it as long as the license is respected. Note that if you do work on the client, you will first need to modify it to work with oAuth.
I hope you, our users, do not feel sad about this. Twitterified was a very enjoyable ride and I am glad that you liked the product. You can contact me on Twitter if you wish, I always enjoy hearing from you.
Chris F. Ravenscroft