Williams On Why Twitter Is Launching Its Own Apps


Twitter’s purchase of Twitter iPhone client Tweetie last week, along with its launch of a Blackberry app, have raised concerns among developers who believe the company could soon crowd out their own creations. CEO Evan Williams’ response at Twitter’s Chirp conference: “I know this is a controversial decision because there were Twitter apps on these platforms — but when we did the research we found we were really underserving our users.”

Williams proceeded to show a clip of a newcomer to Twitter trying to find a Twitter app on the iPhone (That’s her looking confused in the photo above). “What am I looking for?” she asks, as she goes through several possible Twitter iPhone clients — both free and paid.

“That’s not how we’re going to serve users,” Williams said. “We have to make it super easy to get users on board with Twitter and get them engaged.” Williams said that the Blackberry app was responsible for 7 to 8 percent of Twitter’s new sign-ups during the first three days it was available. The more users Twitter has, Williams said, the “more opportunities” there will be for third-party developers.

Will developers buy the pitch? During a short question and answer period following Williams’ remarks, Williams was asked whether the company could make acqusitions “without alienating its developer base.” Williams’ response was meandering, saying he “hopes so” and noting that there will always be some “tension” between a platform provider and the developers who build on that platform.

Williams made one announcement during his keynote, saying that users would now be able to indicate “points of interest” where they are Tweeting from (like a specific museum). He said however that Twitter was not trying to challenge check-in startups like Gowalla and FourSquare, saying instead that he wanted to make those services “work better with Twitter.”

Here’s the video:

Watch live video from Twitter Chirp Conference on Justin.tv



I’m surprised it’s taking them this long. Were they just waiting to see if the Android will get more market share before committing their resources?

Brian Hayashi @connectme

You don’t develop in front of a speeding train. It was a lesson that people learned from working with Microsoft. As long as Twitter pretended it wasn’t about money, a thousand flowers bloomed. But now that the monetization picture is getting sharper, it’s going to be tougher to be OneForty, Foursquare, Gowalla, or any of the Twitter clients…unless they get on the stick and prove that they can do the job 10x better than Twitter can.

Nothing that’s happening now should be a surprise…for example, many Twitter cognoscenti have maintained that check-ins will become a commodity. People have the right to be upset if Twitter starts getting in their business — heck, I’ve been there.

But Dunbar’s Number isn’t just about the number of relationships a person can maintain at the same time. Consumer goods companies know that people only have so much attention they can allocate to any application, whether it is TV or Twitter. Blessing “approved” clients makes it tons easier for newbies to get started with Twitter, enabling them to focus more on “what can this do for me” than “which client should I use”.

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