1. Twitter’s Platform vs Advertising Company Problem

    Twitter needs to start making money and the only thing stopping them from doing that is Twitter itself.

    Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO has been shifting the company away from the hipster wet-dream that it was founded as, and into a business that generates a profit. This naturally has forced decisions to be made, some of which the community feels is decidedly ant-developer.

    There has been many blog posts written about Twitter’s need to adopt a certain type of revenue model. I’ve never understood why people felt that Twitter must adopt a model that only takes focuses on one revenue stream.

    The idea of a single revenue stream forces Twitter to make very painful decisions that could potentially slow growth, or alienate it’s community that has helped grow them to this point. Really, I think it is too late for Twitter to stop calling themselves a platform, and instead pretend to be a media company. That said, I see no real reason why they must choose just one.

    Multiple Revenue Streams

    Advertising Partnerships – Twitter has obviously decided that they want the advertising model as a source of revenue. There is no reason why they should stop this. It makes sense for brands, events, media to participate in Twitter, and there is no reason why Twitter shouldn’t make money off of this. That said, this model shifts all focus away from the user, and instead it focus on the wants of advertisers.

    Premium Accounts – Twitter users have long said that they would gladly pay for the service. I myself, would gladly pay a reasonable monthly or yearly fee to service if there were some additional perks involved. Some perks that I’d love to see in a paid service might be: Twitter level filtering & muting, and in-depth analytics of how tweets are seen and interacted with by users.

    Paid Developer Program – For the last few years Twitter has reigned in developers, restricting what they can do on the platform, and telling them to stop producing twitter clients, or apps that replicate the Twitter experience. Unfortunately, Twitter’s internal application team does not do great work when it comes to developing their own applications, they acqui-hire to produce their own applications. Then, once they release the application, they do an awful job of keeping that application current with new features and releases of their own product. Instead of trying to compete with the development community that continue’s to kick Twitter’s ass at developing applications, Twitter should make developers pay-to-play, and then support them.

    Will It Happen? Probably Not

    It seems fairly clear that Twitter has decided that they are going to become a Media / Advertising company, and they will continue to lock down their platform to protect that model. This is precisely why I backed App.net. The focus on the user, and providing a service to that user is something that I’d like to see. Now, I don’t think App.net will destroy Twitter, and I’m certainly not going start proclaiming the death of Twitter (I hate people who do that), but I do think that if Twitter doesn’t explore the idea of providing their platform as a service, they are going to miss out on developing a company that is much more beloved than Facebook ever could be.

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