Twitter may be a simple 140 character micro-blogging service, but apparently 145 million users (or at least accounts) can’t get enough of the service, using 300,000 various 3rd party apps to connect with friends, family, business partners and random strangers from across the web. Those are the official numbers released this week by company CEO Evan Williams.
As any follower of Twitter knows, of those 300,000 apps, Twitter has purchased quite a few third-party developed programs of there own, Evan justified those purchases by stating:
“We did iPhone user tests and confirmed that even though there was a plethora of third-party Twitter apps, people were having trouble finding and selecting one because none were called “Twitter.” This kept them from using Twitter at all. For this reason, we acquired Tweetie and turned it into Twitter for iPhone, complete with a new user sign-up experience.
We quickly understood that we were doing users a disservice by not having a great client on each of the major mobile platforms. So, we took a similar approach with Twitter for BlackBerry (developed by RIM) and Twitter for Android, which launched a new version this week.”
Now let’s be honest here, Twitter bought out big competitors because they realized that millions of their users were using those services and that disconnect could have ended up costing Twitter millions of dollars in advertising had they not had a direct way to market to those users. Yes Twitter does need to develop their own applications, but their acquisitions involved more than the simple need to support various platforms. Type “Twitter” in your App Market for whatever device you use and more than just the “Twitter” named app pops up, it’s an amusing reason to justify your buyouts, but it’s simply not true.
Furthermore, the company’s acquisitions also show the developer field that Twitter appreciates what they do to expand the Twitter brand. While it’s easy to point a finger at Twitter and say they are buying up the market, we need only point to the 300,000 third-party apps to realize that developers are not going to disappear overnight, however if Twitter is willing to pony up cash to buy apps as they have shown they will do, it may be giving some top developers incentive to develop programs for their service, knowing that they may be able to cash out of at a later time.
In the meantime with a widely accepted API that’s easy to integrate, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next several months if we watch as the company’s app totals reach past half a million.
What do you think about Twitter’s buyout justification? A legitimate thought or just a bunch of smoke and mirrors as they try to keep control of the top apps on their platform?