Twitter has begun the next phase of it’s expansion into the online and mobile world, with the purchase of Atebits, creators of the third party Twitter iPhone app; Tweetie and it’s desktop counterpart which was surprisingly not mentioned in the buyout details, but it can be assumed is included. The take over of this extremely popular platform is seen as Twitter’s first and long awaited step in expanding itself to be much, much more than its current online presence.
The popular social networking site, which has shot to fame in a short time is the last of the major social sites to release an official app. The news follows on from the announcement of Twitter’s mobile development and ambitious growth plans, announced in January which are part of an over all service redesign.
We’ve already seen some minor changes, most notably the controversial ‘retweet’ button, and the new homepage along with several other smaller changes. These ongoing tweaks that Twitter is making are all designed to attempt to not only make the service easier to use, but in the long run, allow it to generate more of a profit.
The move has been seen as a hostile one by some, and like most attempts to make sweeping changes; Twitter seems to be facing some backlash. The purchase of the most popular of the third party programs is giving some people the sense that Twitter is beginning to move to squash the little guy, smaller developers by creating official apps and other programs.
By buying the most popular iPhone app on the market instead of developing its own from scratch, Twitter saves itself from having to compete with already established apps and platforms already out there, and saves a lot of blood, sweat and tears trying to figure out what it can do better then the rest.
Developers should certainly watch out – Twitter seems to know what it wants, what it thinks its service should be like, and has a plan of attack for the future.
However, there will always be someone else jumping in the lead; Twitterific, the first iPhone app released for Twitter also announced it’s the first to make an iPad formatted version of its app. Twitterific for a long period was the most popular of the Twitter apps, before Tweetie began to beat it, although it always been the leader in jumping onto new platforms, such as the iPhone or the iPad.
The majority of Tweets are now coming from third party apps, and over 60% from outside the United States.