Twitter Tuesday - third-party Twitter apps take a beating and keep on tweeting
It's certainly not a good week to be a Twitter app developer (unless you work for Twitter, that is). Tweet honcho Evan Williams just revealed on the Twitter blog that third-party apps make up a teeny-tiny percentage of all Twitter traffic, with the Twitter website and official apps pulling the bulk of the weight. Ev stopped short of saying, "You think we need you, but we don't," but that seemed to be the implication.
In case you were wondering which third-party apps are the most successful, TwitPic and TweetDeck top the list, with 4% and 3% of Twitter's traffic, respectively. To put that into perspective, the official Twitter iPhone app gets 8%, and so does SMS. Twitter.com is by far the most popular way to access Twitter, at 78%.
Meanwhile, the money is being cut off for Twitter devs, too. A report cited by ReadWriteWeb says that, while Twitter development is way up, investment in Twitter developers is way down. In fact, it's down 50% over the past year. The report only deals with startups whose products are built entirely on the Twitter platform, so hybrid apps might be okay. We just don't know for sure, but we do know that Twitter continues to muscle out developers. Twitter's "evolving ecosystem," which grew up on the work of enthusiastic outside devs, is now leaving them behind.
Twitter's official iPhone app is about to get push notifications, according to several sources on the Web. It's like Twitter's old SMS alert option, reborn in a cooler iPhone-shaped body. Even better, push notifications won't count toward your monthly SMS total or incur texting charges.
Most power users I know haven't been using SMS for alerts anyway, though. They've been using apps like Boxcar, Prowl, and Notifo. Now, it looks like those push helpers for the iPhone might be in trouble. Facebook already has alerts, and I can't imagine that many people are using push with RSS feeds.
Meanwhile, one of Twitter's most recent feature additions, Who To Follow, seems to be going gangbusters to increase people's following/follower numbers. Mike Arrington at TechCrunch looked at the follower numbers for popular accounts and saw a huge increase in new followers that coincides with the launch of Twitter's people recommendations.
Oh, and back to the third-party developer topic for just a moment: TweetMeme has fared better than some developers after being replaced by an official Twitter product (the Tweet Button), but it still lost 20% of its traffic after the Tweet button launched (Ouch!). And that's what happens when Twitter agrees not to destroy a third-party product in a single move. I wonder what would have happened if they'd just rolled out the Tweet Button all at once? TweetMeme has now shifted focus to sifting and selling Twitter data.
And that's your Twitter Tuesday for this week. As always, I'll be keeping an eye on Twitter news and bringing you more next week. Stay tuned!