I change the directions of small pieces of metal for a living.

The misguided priorities of Twitter

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Today, Twitter announced (with some awesome spin) that they would hamstring the direct message capabilities of all 3rd-party Twitter apps.

It’s been clear for awhile that one of Twitter’s monetization strategies is to force everyone to use their mobile apps over those of third-parties. This will let them show promoted trending topics in the newly-neutered Dickbar to all mobile users. I understand that Twitter needs to find a way to make money, but this direction strikes me as extremely misguided.

I believe this lock-in strategy will never create enough revenue to cover a non-trivial portion of their operating costs (never mind the $10 billion they turned down from Google). In the meantime, it will alienate the developers who were once the lifeblood of the Twitter ecosystem. Without these developers, the 3rd party apps that Twitter does want (cool aggregations, visualizations, etc.) will not be built, and new developer-fueled uses of the service will not be able to thrive.

It seems to me that the folks making business decisions at Twitter are severely underestimating the importance of certain parts of the community, and/or severely overestimating the potential revenue from their own mobile apps.