From the outside, it is hard to parse Twitter’s acquisition strategy — at least for client apps. Last year, Twitter acquired Tweetie and made it its official app. That had some rationale as Tweetie was perhaps the leading client having a free, official app available would, at the very least, constrain the price of competing clients. This is a familiar strategy and one that has been pursued by Apple and Microsoft in the past.
But now Twitter has turned around and purchased TweetDeck for $40 million. I use TweetDeck on my desktop — but installing it requires installing Adobe’s Air platform first so it isn’t straightforward. It competes with the official Twitter app there and also on mobile devices. But what is the rationale for having two official apps?
According to TechCrunch, TweetDeck was being courted by UberMedia. UberMedia themselves have a popular Twitter client as part of their suite and TweetDeck would give them a 20 percent market share. That still does not sound like much but perhaps it was too much for Twitter.
What is interesting here is that, as a platform, Twitter is worried about the clients and the power they might accumulate. But, of course, the clients have been a driving source for innovation that has made Twitter more usable. I can’t imagine tweeting or monitoring Twitter without them — imagine if we were stuck with a web page or SMS. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that some chaos is reigning at Twitter but maybe all will be revealed in the near future.