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Twitter's unfriendly app policies make sense considering its revenue stats

Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday October 16, 2013.

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Last year, Twitter hampered third-party apps by setting a hard cap on how many tokens an app could give to customers. The reason at the time was obviously done to protect Twitter as it sought to make money, and recent stats show the company was wise to take action. Before sending me angry letters, realize that I'm not a fan of what Twitter did. Limiting tokens to 100,000 or double what an app had at the time of the announcement discouraged the creation or continued support of alternative Twitter apps, which have long been vastly superior to the official apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. All I'm saying is that from a business standpoint, Twitter made an obvious choice between friendliness and money.

As Twitter begins its process of becoming a publicly traded company on the stock market, it amended an S-1 filing that reveals information that was previously kept private. One of the key insights into the company's most recent quarter is that 70 percent of its revenue comes from mobile. Twitter generated $153.46 million from advertising, and $107.38 million of that revenue came because users seeing or clicking on promoted tweets in Twitter's mobile apps. When a company is so heavily reliant on mobile to make its money, it's no surprise that Twitter made an effort to stop the growth of rival options that draw away from its cash cow.

Sure, Twitter could have just as easily created some program that required third-party apps to display its ad program, but that would have created additional headaches and clashes with existing ad options that may have made that course difficult. Though it's unfortunate Twitter chose to be anti-apps, the company was bound to make that decision based on its reliance for mobile ad revenue.

Now, if only Twitter would be nice enough to make its apps better so that people wouldn't have to rely on alternatives like Mehdoh, Plume, Carbon, Twitterific, and others to fill gaps that the official mobile apps do not.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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