Twitter to Add New Features, Third-Party Clients Beware?

3 minute read
Chelsi Nakano avatar

Twitter to Add New Features, Third-Party Clients Beware?
Is Twitter (news, site) going to attempt to squash third-party apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck with a new feature of their own? A tweet sent out last week by Twitter engineer Alex Payne indicates that the company’s definitely got stuff cooking, but raining on the third-party parade might not be the goal.

‘Nifty’ Features

First, Payne’s tweet:

If you had some of the nifty site features that we Twitter employees have, you might not want to use a desktop client. (You will soon.)

Following the mini announcement, a handful of third-party developers had mini freak-outs, including Chat Etzel, an ex-Twitter employee:

@al3x as a developer, I’m not sure how to take that looming tweet…

It's worth noting that it appears Payne has deleted his initial tweet, and followed up with the assurance that the client team is simply building "cool stuff" meant to inspire desktop application developers, not destroy all competition.

Improving Twitter

We're quite curious to see what Twitter has cookin', mainly because the company has built their 140-character fortress around simplicity. Adding too many frills would go against their original DNA, and could possibly turn a lot of users off.

Most recent additions to the microblogging platform include Lists and Retweets. What's left to improve? Perhaps their search options, maybe some geo-location goodness--but is that enough to inspire total third-party abandonment? Meh. We're going to guess that  Seesmic, Brizzly, TweetDeck and the like still have much time left in their lifespan. 

Money, Money, Money

That said, it's undeniable that Twitter is prepping to make 2010 a very different kind of year, starting by going corporate. Though slated to offer corporate and brand account managers a paid option that will grant access to analytics, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is adamant about leaving out the text and display ads as part of their revenue-making strategy.

Learning Opportunities

Our best guess is that 2010 is going to be all about the look and feel of sophisticated social media. After all, Twitter has already changed its infamous question from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening?" in order to reflect the new attitude towards the platform.

"...people are witnessing accidents, organizing events, sharing links, breaking news, reporting stuff their dad says, and so much more," noted Stone. "The fundamentally open model of Twitter created a new kind of information network and it has long outgrown the concept of personal status updates."

Interestingly, the idea of outgrowth brings us right back to Twitter's DNA, or mode of operation. With such huge changes underway, it's fair to consider the possibility that Twitter will toss simplicity to the wind.

Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, we think it's worth it to continue checking  out third-party apps. Seesmic, for example,  just added threaded conversations and a contact manager to their Web app, and some social media marketing elements to their desktop client that look pretty promising.