Tag Archives: Twitter

Twitter’s #DickMove

If you are a Twitter user, you have probably heard about the sweeping changes made by Twitter to the Twitter API ToS (Terms of Service). In one fell swoop, Twitter’s platform lead Ryan Sarver outlawed all new Twitter clients. The justification offered was that Twitter wants to provide a consistent user experience in order to avoid confusing users. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Twitter’s real motivation is something a lot less noble.

Twitter

Back in 2009, when Twitter was experiencing tearaway growth, the billion dollar question in everyone’s mind was how will Twitter manage to generate enough revenue to become profitable. Two years on, we have a better idea. Besides selling access to search engines like Google and Bing, Twitter is using various promoted products (promoted trends, promoted accounts and promoted tweets) to generate revenue. The recent inclusion of the #dickbar in the iOS app suggests that Twitter is about to get more aggressive about monetization. Unfortunately, if a large number of users continue to prefer third party apps, Twitter might find it harder to generate enough revenue. And, that is the single biggest motivation for Twitter’s recent ToS changes. If maintaining consistent user experience is all they were worried about, they could have easily made third party apps fall in line by introducing a few additional clauses to the ToS, instead of abolishing them.

MG Siegler has done a comparison of the old ToS with the new one. The most telling bit is that Twitter has gone from wanting to empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable businessesto empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable tools.

As you might expect, most developers aren’t bemused. Twitter started off as simple service intended for sharing what you are currently doing with your friends. Now, it is being used for everything from organizing protests to proposing one’s girlfriend. Twitter itself has gone from asking “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?. The credit for the evolution of Twitter lies with its ecosystem, which includes both users and third-party developers.

Fred Oliveira eloquently explained why the recent ToS change is a #dickmove in an open letter to Twitter. Twitter’s dramatic change of policy will not only anger developers, but also users. To quote Oliveira:

Lack of trust (like what developers are feeling right now) trickles down through the ecosystem and to the users’ ears.
I just don’t see this as a time when you can just tell developers you don’t need their clients anymore. Find ways to monetize your service by putting up sensible rules and guidelines, not walls.

However, there is another issue that Oliveira missed. From the very beginning, it is the ecosystem that defined and redefined Twitter. The list of features that were first seen in third-party clients and were later adopted by Twitter is fairly lengthy. It includes features like retweets, trends, lists, flickr integration, YouTube integration, URL shortening and so on. In brief, Twitter clients have been responsible for major innovations, and they have helped shape Twitter. By preventing the entry of third-party apps, Twitter will also be stifling innovation.

Twitter raised large sums of money in its funding rounds. It is obviously under pressure to start generating serious revenue soon. However, it seems to be willing to betray developers, annoy users, and damage the entire ecosystem in the process. The big question is can they afford to continue pissing off developers and users? Is the core product compelling enough to make users and developers stick around irrespective of Twitter’s betrayal? I have a feeling that if Twitter continues to be irreverent towards developers, in the long run, these very decisions might come back to haunt Dick Costolo and Twitter.

Google Displaying Promoted Tweets on Real-time Search

Twitter has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this past week. After the #dickbar fiasco, and the recent update of the Twitter API terms to discourage developers from building new Twitter clients, Twitter, under the leadership of Dick Costolo, seems to be charging ahead to turn profitable, at least enough to justify its sky high valuation which recently jumped to $7.7 billion in a private auction.

Unlike Facebook, which seems to have found a way to make money without irritating its users, every time Twitter makes a move towards monetizing the millions of tweets its users create, somehow it always seems to rub off badly with either the users or the developers.

In its latest move, Twitter seems to have convinced Google to display promoted tweets in real-time search results. It seems like if you search for any keyword in Google for which a promoted tweet exists, the promoted tweet is display on top of the results, highlighted as “Ads by Twitter”. Twitter likely plans to jack up the price of Promoted Tweets based on how much additional traffic they gain from real-time search users.

Bing, Google’s closest competitor in the search space, isn’t displaying the promoted tweets in the real-time search results though. We wonder if this is because Google has only the Twitter firehose as a source for real-time search results, while Bing has access to both Twitter and Facebook data streams. Maybe, that’s how Twitter coerced Google into display promoted tweets in results. At this point, it’s still speculation though.

Google Promoted Tweets Ads by Twitter

Building A Business Around Someone Else’s Could Mean Disaster

I have had some really big ideas to build around WordPress. I had wireframes ready for them, had all business plans ready and more. However, when I went to an investor to get funding for it, I came back empty handed. The reason was because though my ideas were not innovative, but no one willing to put much money into it because of the fact that it relied on someone else’s business.

Business

This rejection thought me a big lesson in life and there were several things I learnt from the Investors who rejected my idea. One of the most important lessons I learnt was to never build a business based on someone else’s business. There are quite a few problems. I’ll quote some reasons below:

  • You rely on someone else’s business for your own business. This is the cardinal sin of creating a business in the first place.
  • When the business in question builds something you have built, your business is potentially killed rendering all your hard work and marketing useless.
  • There will be competitors who will try to do better (remember first is not always best in startups) and take off and your business may collapse.
  • The business you are building around could just collapse rendering all your hard work useless.
  • The business you built around could change their terms of use rendering all your hard work useless.

Well, these are just some of the lessons I learnt from a brilliant idea which collapsed like a pack of cards. The idea would work, it would have worked great in the short term, but in the end it would collapse because of the fact that I don’t really have control over how things would work out considering all the above problems I listed out.

Also Read: Is Twitter a Reliable Service to Build Your Business Around?

Of course there are success stories which are built upon these businesses, for example on we all came across Farmville at some point of time. The game was created by Zynga, a company which relied solely on Facebook for it’s income before diversifying and becoming a billion dollar company today. There are more examples like these which will lure you into building around someone else, but there are also 100 times more failures.

Quite recently,  asked developers to stop developing new apps to display Tweets because they wanted to control how tweets are displayed and how information is delivered to their users. This new change has caused quite a lot of hue and cry among the developer community, and for valid reasons.

However, the storm will die and developers will stop developing apps for Twitter, but what about people who already put in years of efforts into developing those great clients? Does everything go to waste? Would the folks behind have to shut shop? Well, most likely the popular clients will survive, but the smaller clients would eventually wind up. In the end, Twitter can block your service like they did recently with UberTwitter and twidroyd and render your app/business useless.

Of course, this does not mean that you should not use Twitter or Facebook as part of your business. However, it is better to limit the amount of functionality they bring to your business. Building your business solely around Twitter or Facebook or for that matter any other service would be disastrous in the long run and is definitely best avoided.

I am not a businessman per se, but I have seen enough in the past 10-12 years to really understand that it is always better to build something and then integrate other services as part of it, rather than building a service around something.

I would be more than interested in knowing your thoughts about this and would love to learn your experiences on developing apps and your feelings about Twitter’s recent move. The comments form are all yours.

Image Credit: Contractor Business Profits

Life Without An Android Smartphone

Last July, I purchased my first ever Android phone the Galaxy S. Since then, I have shifted from one Android phone to another after every few months. My Android based smartphone had become a very integral part of my life. I need it for tweeting and checking mails on the move, trying out new apps etc.

I never thought how my life would be without my Android phone. Then one fine morning the microphone on my Desire Z stopped working. I had to give it to the service center for a replacement. HTC promised me that I will get a replacement phone within a week, but it was only after 15 days and tons of phone calls that I got a replacement phone.

image

Nevertheless, when I gave my Desire Z to the service center, I was totally devastated! I had no idea how I was going to spend the upcoming days without my beloved Android handset. Since I did not have any spare Android handset with me, I had to use a Nokia 6681 for the time being. I had all my contacts backed up to Google Contacts, and the 6681 had no option of syncing with it. The only option I was left was with, was to save some important numbers in the phonebook of the handset.

For the next week, what I went through without my beloved Zee phone was nothing short of torture. More than the phone’ itself, I was missing apps like Remote For iTunes, TweetDeck, My Tracks, Google Maps and RunKeeper which I use on a day-to-day basis. The thing I missed the most? Push email and calendar entries reminder!

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The basic and the most important feature of a phone, the calling part, was something which I did not miss at all. The Nokia 6681 was as good as the Z in network reception and the call quality was above average as well. I do understand that the Nokia 6681 is a smartphone’ in its own right, and I could have simply pimped the phone to make my life a little less miserable.

However, after using phones with speedy 1 GHz processor and tons of RAM, the 6681 felt downright slow! I felt pity on the poor soul, and decided against pimping it for my needs.

All this just proves that with time we, the users, have started expecting much more from our smartphones, than just fulfilling our basic telephony and messaging needs. We need a small device in our hands that can help us find our way through unknown roads, let us know what our friends are having for breakfast, make our day-to-day life much better, and in the end help us to connect to our near and dear ones via phone calls and SMS’s.

Twitter’s Web Interface Gets #Dickbar in Google Chrome

Last week released a new update to their iOS based app where they introduced a new floating bar in the app to display trending topics (read ads) to users.

Twitter #Dickbar Web Interface

This new update created an outrage in the tech sphere and even on Twitter itself. Much of the problem with this new bar lay in the fact that it overlapped tweets. This dedicated site http://dickbar.org/ explains what really happened and how this sparked an issue and the new hashtag #Dickbar.

If you aren’t an user, you might have been spared these recent changes, but if you want to know what this looked like you can try out an for which brings the #Dickbar to the web interface. Interested? Go ahead and download it from here.

Is Twitter a Reliable Service to Build Your Business Around?

Twitter is one of the hottest web-services from a developer’s perspective. There has been a slew in app development based on Twitter. Nowadays, people are developing more side projects than ever and many other innovative concepts are being realized, many of them are based around Twitter. In times when Twitter comes to be known as “the microblogging service”, it is limiting access to its services alarmingly and gradually.
twitter-fail-whale
In the past one month, Twitter has imposed two restrictions on its API. While the first one was quite indicative of their API scalability limit being reached, this second limitation is more of a warning. In the first limitation, Twitter declared whitelisting of apps and refused to take any further requests for whitelisting.

Whitelisted apps are given more priority in API calls, and can access more data per API call. A shutdown of further requests for this service indicates that Twitter is not able to serve API calls across all applications and this is a desperate attempt to maintain a reliable service. Already whitelisted apps will still retain the whitelisting and function seamlessly.

Business Insider has some valid points on this change at Twitter. It outlines three reasons for the changes.

  • Scalability issues
  • Changes in the API
  • Saturated development ecosystem

Out of these three, scalability issues are something we know exist for all web-services. It can be solved sooner or later. However, a saturated developers ecosystem and Twitter’s favoritism for some specific apps (whitelisted ones) is alarming.

Coming to the second limitation, Twitter already has a date (31st March) for the shutdown of the GeoAPI for public use and this kills many geolocation apps based around Twitter. I am satisfied that I did not base my current geolocation projects around Twitter. In changes like these, the developer is always the one facing the heat.

Twitter Restores Banned Ubermedia Applications

Twitter has a lot of problems with third party apps using the name Twitterin their app name. That or UberMedia fought a long and hard battle over the weekend to resolve the banning issue with the micro blogging giant.

ubermedia

On the 18th of this month, Twitter announced that the then Ubertwitter and Twidroyd had been suspended for violatingTwitter’s policies. The announcement also had a plug for Twitter’s own applications on the Blackberry and Android systems. Their reasons for suspension were shortly made known to the public:-

“Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.”

Today, Twitter updated their original post. They lifted the ban on the two applications, stating that the applications had started taking steps to remedy the policy violations. A new update for both the applications is available on the respective markets and only a re-sign in is needed for the apps to start working as they used to.

However, amidst this chaotic weekend, the truereason as to why Twitter suspended the apps without any prior warning crept up to the surface. Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia, the creator of UberTwitter UberSocial responded on Quora as to why the apps had been suspended. However, the best comment on the entire issue came from a user who asked the vital question without making it seem like a question:-

Yes, and it’s total coincidence that on the day they were suspended Twitter ran the promoted Tweet #TwitterMobile and that UberTwitter was never suspended before being bought by Bill Gross & raising $17.5m.

This sort of shoddy and offensive behavior on Twitter Inc.’s part is not going to win it any brownie points later. However, being confined to its bounds (being the largest microblogging platform) we see monopoly mechanics emerging from its depths, although the entire affair has dulled our opinion of Twitter as a whole.

Is UberSocial The New UberTwitter?

Update: Probably Yes. See updates below.

If you have been seeing tweets on saying that UberSocial is the new UberTwitter, you are probably falling into a pit. First off, UberTwitter was banned earlier today by Twitter and they would not risk coming out with a new name because of what they have at stake.

The owner of UberTwitter; UberMedia, own a large number of Twitter clients including the recently acquired . Performing such a circumnavigation on the ban Twitter put in place would ensure that the new client got blocked along with all other UberMedia properties.

Also the site UberSocial is hardly functional. The downloads don’t work and the website is just not owned by the owners of UberTwitter. I might be wrong but you can check the Who Is information and I doubt it is owned by UberMedia.

Rest aside, stay away from UberSocial and if you are in so much of a desperate need, check out the UberTwitter alternatives for Blackberry.

Updates Below

The UberSocial site is owned by UberMedia. I have been able to confirm it through Who IS information which match those from UberSocial and UberMedia. They are both hosted on the same name servers:

ns1.idealab.com
ns2.idealab.com

However, UberSocial has not yet been submitted to the World and neither is the site functional. Whether renaming a client to another name would give it another chance on Twitter is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, this has been an endless fiasco of a client being banned and it coming into the system by changing it’s name to another brand altogether when it was already one of the most popular brands on a device.

Sorry for jumping the gun on this, but sometimes you miss out on researching things fully and then come across updates which require you to re-justify what you wrote. I will try and ensure that this does not happen in the future.

Libya Crucifies the "Internet" Too; It Should Just Win a Nobel Prize

For the past few years I have been on social networking sites like and , there has been a trend. That trend has defined what social networking can do. No, it is not promoting advertisements, it is promoting real-life situations and revolutions all around the world and spreading news about disasters as quickly and efficiently as we could have imagined.

Google Search Libya Traffic Drop

In the past month or so there were revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, both these countries strangulated the Internet and it looks like Libya is doing the same now.

In the wake of the rising protests, the first thing these countries do is to cut-off their ties with the external world by cutting off the cord that allows them to breathe into it; these two include cutting off phone lines which are obvious and now the "Internet" which is the second biggest way for people to communicate with each other.

So is this justified? No, but there is no democracy anywhere. There have been blockages by the Governments of India and Pakistan who have banned websites for no reasons which do not call for these bans at all. These are countries which are purely democratic in nature.

It definitely hurts me that Countries target the internet because people can use it to post their views. Well we know how autocratic China is, but should each and every country be like them? Of course, I can’t say that Libya is a liberal country, but curtailing access to the Internet is not a justified way (and most likely sensible way) of killing protests across the board.

People around the world will find ways to know what you do, it does not matter whether you do or do not allow access to the Internet. People will also find ways to access blocked websites, whether or not you allow access to it. So stop acting like you are stopping a child from having candy, when they desire it so much.

If this does not stop, I bet that the Internet will go from being nominee for the Nobel Prize to actually winning it.

(Traffic drop image via @mattcutts)

UberTwitter Alternatives for Blackberry and iPhone

Earlier today, Twitter blocked the popular Blackberry client for ; UberTwitter. This must have come as a huge blow for users who relied on the software for checking on their tweets, replies, messages and updating their status.

Twitter Bird

If you are a or users and can’t access Twitter because you used those clients, here are some alternatives for you which are pretty good.

users can try out Echofon for Twitter (free) or TweetDeck for iPhone (free too) or the Official Twitter client for iPhone (free). If you are a Blackberry user, you can use the official Twitter client (free) or   Seesmic for Twitter (free) or Tweet Genius (free).

Android users can search the market place for the official Twitter client or also use for Android which is available in the marketplace.