Growing Pains for Twitter Developers

Twitter's transition from hyped start-up to profitable mainstay is causing angst for its third-party developers, which have built a thriving ecosystem of URL-shorteners, iPhone apps and other services around the popular microblogging platform.

Venture capitalist and  Twitter board member Fred Wilson issued the first salvo when he urged developers to stop "filling holes" and start creating "entirely new things." His post was interpreted as a message that the microblogging service may put third-party services out of business by building similar services internally.

Then Twitter bought Atebits, the maker of the popular Mac and iPhone Twitter application Tweetie, which it will now make available for free.

The moves created some drama among some developers ahead of Chirp, Twitter's first official developer conference which will be held this week, but the change was "entirely predictable," writes angel investor and tech-blogger Chris Dixon:

The real problem is that somehow Twitter had convinced the world they were going to "let a thousand flowers bloom" - as if they were a non-profit out to save the world, or that they would invent some fantastic new business model that didn't encroach on third-party developers. This week Twitter finally started acting like what it is: a well-financed company run by smart capitalists.

The shift in Twitter's growth is good for developers, argued Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb:

Tonight's news demonstrates again that independent developers can code their way into cash, equity and a job at one of the hottest startups on the web. That bodes well for those of us who love to use the software built by all of them, too.

The Atebits acquisition could lead to Twitter screwing up a fine app, Daring Fireball's John Gruber warned. And, he said, "there's going to be some heavy drinking tonight" by the developers who built also-ran iPhone Twitter apps.

The severity of their hangover will determine the next chapter for Twitter.

Presented by

Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In