Twitter APIs are a Move Toward 3P Uniformity and Creativity
There’s much a-Twitter this morning about the micro-blog/social net/news feed provider’s decision to effectively rein in third-party developers with its new API. There will be new limits for developers on the numbers of third-party apps, the numbers of users/Twitter clients per each app, and how apps are authenticated by Twitter. If the blogosphere is to believed, developers are up in arms, mainly aroused against Twitter’s effrontery in trying to dictate what developers do and how they do it.
It’s a symptom seen more and more in today’s loosely-coupled, everything-is-open, “boundary-free enterprise™” business and IT environment, borne of the increased sense of community involvement fostered by socially-adroit IT providers along with open source movements and a massive audience of capable developers/users. Users and developers are made to feel as if they truly are part of what the provider is and does, and thus feel and behave as if they have a significant voice if not control over the same.
The reality is that IT providers, whether Cloud-based, socially-oriented, or traditionally data-center-centric, will do everything reasonably possible and likely to protect their business, and that includes how other businesses – including single-party developers – build off of and profit from them.
Twitter, like Facebook and Salesforce before it, has created an outstanding sense of community and belonging that has both contributed to its own success and created massive opportunities for third parties to succeed as well. But the bottom line is the bottom line. Once a provider establishes a market, it must do all possible to protect and promote its dominance over that market, and Twitter’s push toward client limits and associated development uniformity is just such a move.
Should developers suddenly be wary of Twitter, or of other providers that might execute similar moves to control and manage how its services and software are accessed or built upon? Only the most naive ones, unaccustomed to the realities of software business. The most creative developers will find new and better ways of building on and profiting from Twitter, or other platforms, and the best will likely go on to develop other types of platforms and communities – and maybe win awards for doing so.