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Twitter Bullies 3rd Party Developers with new API Changes

Published August 28, 2012 - 3 Comments

After installing a fresh copy of Mountain Lion, I sat down to re-download my favourite Twitter client for Mac OSX, and found it suddenly absent from the developer’s website.  Huh?

I’ve been using Tweetbot by Tapbots on my iPad for about a year now, and find it to be the best Twitter client available for that platform.  Because of that, I was pretty stoked to hear that they were developing a client for OSX.  Ever since Twitter bought Tweetdeck and completely drove it into the ground, I’ve been without a favourite Twitter client.  Sure, the official Twitter client does the trick… but Tweetdeck was head and shoulders above that… Until they sold out.

But Tweetbot… Tweetbot was to be what many of us felt was sorely needed… a powerful Twitter client capable of much much more than simply displaying our random thoughts in 140 characters or less.  If you’ve had a chance to use the public Alpha, you’d probably agree that it’s moving in that direction.  And if you haven’t had a chance to download that public Alpha yet… too late.

So why did Tapbots pull the download link from their website?  You can read their full explanation here.  But the short of it is that Twitter changed the rules regarding 3rd party developers using the Twitter API to develop their own Twitter clients.  Twitter now limits 3rd party developers to a mere 200,000 tokens.. which translates to 200,000 twitter accounts capable of using that piece of software to check and send tweets.  Does this sound like a lot to you?  Sure… but then take into consideration that these tokens do not expire, so if you install a Twitter client and decide immediately that it’s not something you’re interested in, well that token is still in use, even if you delete the program.  For a company like Tapbots, allowing the public to test their software before it reaches the release status… this just does not make sense.  So it’s understandable that they would pull the plug on the download.

Does this spell the end of Tweetbot for Mac OSX?  Not according to the Tapbots blog, which states “Tweetbot for Mac will still be available for sale in the near future”.  

This is great news for those of us who have been waiting patiently for an OSX version of our favourite iOS Twitter client… and for anyone else looking for a great alternative to the official Twitter app, or any of its watered-down clones.

Still… I have to wonder if Twitter is doing a disservice to its users by placing limitations on developers like Tapbots.