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Twitter: No Plans to Build Desktop Clients

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In a Q&A conducted with users today from his personal Twitter account, CEO Evan Williams shared his company’s product roadmap details in the wake of the relaunch of Perhaps most interestingly, he said that Twitter does not plan to release official desktop clients, which had been a major concern for some third-party developers. Desktop Twitter client providers like TweetDeck and Seesmic are scurrying to establish their independence from Twitter; for instance, Seesmic just launched integrated support for 40 social web services. But their impending doom due to competition from Twitter might now be averted.

Williams told questioners that all Twitter users would have the new Twitter (aka #newtwitter) within “weeks,” and that the classic Twitter website would be phased out. He mentioned that the company is working on its own Android (s GOOG) app internally* (sorry Twidroyd), and that it plans to improve its BlackBerry (s RIMM) app. *Update: I should have mentioned Twitter for Android is already out — it was a silly omission, because I use it myself!

Here are some other features Williams said are in the works:

  • A URL shortener to make links shared on the new better fit into 140 characters (“Not yet, but definitely something we want to add.” C’mon, really? This is my main complaint about the new Twitter so far. Total chafe.)
  • Conversations that show back-and-forth tweets by users (Twitter is “working on it now.”)
  • Translation to read tweets in other languages (Williams says this is a potential future feature that “we’re exploring.”)
  • Additional countries added to the trending topic feature

There’s a great organized transcript of the Q&A on Search Engine Land or you can search for the hashtag #askev. Williams said he’d conduct more of these sessions in the future.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

How Twitter Is Re-Engineering to Address Always-on Usage

8 Responses to “Twitter: No Plans to Build Desktop Clients”

  1. Dick Costolo, Twitter’s COO, expanded on the URL shortener at the Connections 10 conference in Indianapolis, Indiana last week. He said Twitter will be using a Columbian domain ( as their URL shortener. Costolo said that having a URL shortener in house would allow them to police spammy links among other benefits.

  2. For those like myself who paid $’s to ‘support’ @atebits and his TweetieMac desktop client, Twitter should show appreciation and release the TweetieMac code as opensource so that it can be improved on by the community.

    If Twitters view is that they will not update TweetieMac without releasing the code, then that is not acceptable.

    What’s your take?

    • One more thing!

      I understand that Twitter may not want to compete with their desktop client developer ecosystem even if they want to (which I suspect is the case). OpenSourcing the TweetieMac client would give Twitter an elegant way to say ‘we are not competing with you’ we are just supporting our OpenSource project where and when necessary.

      I am confident that if Twitter OpenSources the TweetieMac code, the community will develop it into a robust ‘platform’ in no time.

      Result: Twitter wins and its loyal Mac users win.

  3. Why would Twitter want to build desktop clients? If most of their users are currently using the website — which serves as a way to distribute advertising, page views, and other good-looking metrics — it would be somewhat silly to create a desktop application that might negatively impact page views.

    They are obviously wanting to create an amazing application on the web, which makes perfect sense.

    So why is it a shock that they don’t feel the need to build a desktop client? I think it would be a less-than-intelligent decision on the part to do so, unless the sole purpose was to convince users of other desktop Twitter apps to switch; therefore ticking off more third-party developers.

  4. Jason Voidrum

    TweetDeck and Seesmic are doomed due to a fundamental flaw. They built a client before they built a server-side platform. Seesmic can add to their “client platform” all they like but without a robust server-side infrastructure to understand and organize the data as a whole and make intelligent decisions around how to surface it, they’re going to be left behind with the next generation of integration platforms like Flipboard. I’m personally keeping my eye on Cliqset and Cliqset specically seems to have build an very robust integration service.