Loic Le Meur, creator of the popular Twitter-client Seesmic, tells us that these days, it is “extremely dangerous to be a Twitter-only application.”
Loic’s reasoning is that if Twitter-only application is crucial enough to the use of Twitter, Twitter might just clone it and crush it.
One reason we think Loic is on to something, is that this week, Twitter’s top invester, Fred Wilson, dropped a bombshell on the Twitter app universe, writing a post warning developers to stop “filling holes” in Twitter’s product and start building “something entirely new on top of Twitter.”
(Though Fred later tried to claim he wasn’t speaking for Twitter, we found plenty of Twitter employees cheerleading his post. Today, Twitter followed-up on Fred’s post by announcing an “official” Twitter app for BlackBerry.)
Fred specifically attacked mobile clients, search, and URL shorteners, writing “Twitter really should have had all of that when it launched.”
We took Fred’s post an implicit threat that Twitter could buy or build its own photo-uploader and mobile app, squashing third-party developers in its way.
And, voila, today Twitter announced an “official” Twitter app for BlackBerry, putting itself in direct competition with third-party app ÜberTwitter, which sends ~9% of all tweets to Twitter. (Next look for a redesign from Twitter, which one employee says will make users “not want to use a desktop client.”)
Seeing the news, one big time developer told us: “Now I am convinced we will see one official twitter app for each main platform.”
Another huge Twitter developer, TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth, told us: “I’ve no idea what Twitter are planning but it wouldn’t suprise me if they now deem it important to own more eyeballs.”
“I don’t agree with this strategy but, as I said, I wouldn’t be suprised. I wouldn’t underestimate the value of the innovation in the long tail. I hope this is not stiffled if Twitter appear to be competing.”
Both Loic and Iain told us they are prepared for Twitter’s shfit in strategy. Loic tells us Seesmic Desktop 2, which launches next week, will take feeds from all kinds of social networks, not just Twitter.
Iain sounded a similar note, telling us, “I think it unlikely that Twitter would integrate facebook/linkedin/myspace (and a few others we have coming) into their products – TweetDeck is not solely a Twitter app, it’s a multi-stream browser aimed at social media power users – that’s quite a big differentiation.”
Good for Iain and Loic, but many other Twitter app-developers — Android client-makers and iPhone client-makers come to mind first — probably won’t find themselves so well-prepared.
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