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In pursuit of business plan, Twitter riles developers

Cameron Scott | July 12, 2012
The changes Twitter is making to its API policies triggered a wave of protest among its developers, but they might be necessary for the strategy Twitter has laid out for itself to make money and keep growing its service.

Most companies that invite developers to build on their platforms warn them well in advance of upcoming changes, but Twitter doesn't, Scoble said. "Twitter just doesn't have that outreach to developers that makes you feel warm and fuzzy even when things are changing," he said.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa sees Twitter in somewhat of a Catch-22 situation: It needs a robust community of developers to continue its growth, but the steps it is taking to achieve that growth risk alienating its developers.

"Having a development ecosystem is one of those Holy Grails in tech. Not every company is able to do it, but it's a big plus if you can. It multiplies monetization opportunities for you," Hilwa said.

Ultimately, Twitter's efforts to expand its revenue may be a bigger priority for it at the moment than its relationship with developers, Hilwa and Owyang said.

"But let's be clear, the number of developers to walk away from Twitter will be small," Owyang said. "We're going to hear a lot of moaning on blog posts and in tweets, but they can't completely unhook from Twitter."


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