The decision to offer its own mobile applications is having a negative effect on relationships with the developer community, and the firm suggests Twitter should urgently provide developers with a clear roadmap of where its own in-house development efforts are heading.
"As Twitter matures, it is inevitable that the company will want to produce or acquire more in-house applications, and there is always a certain inherent tension between developers and platform owners," said Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum and author of the report 'Twitter grows up and gets serious'.
"However, Twitter needs to be very careful not to alienate the developer community as they drive innovation for the service and also traffic. It should be remembered that applications account for 75% of all tweets," explained Zoller.
Ovum's position is that developers won't want to compete directly with Twitter, which has released its own BlackBerry app, as well as acquiring and rebranding Tweetie as Twitter for iPhone.
How does Zoller think developers should respond? See page 2.
The number of Twitter applications has doubled in the last five months to 100,000. But this growth could be choked off by Twitter's actions, Ovum warns. The company's expressed intention to enhance the platform's core experience "is not great news for developers as enhancing the core Twitter experiences is exactly what most third-party applications do," said Zoller.
"For example, a core experience that Twitter is considering taking a direct hand in is rich media such as video and photos. It also plans to launch a URL link shortener," she added.
Zoller advises developers to innovate in vertical markets and other non-traditional areas: "The first Twitter applications are well established, and as the Twitter platform matures developers will need to be more creative," she said.
That's probably true, but the world doesn't really need Yet Another Twitter Application. Well targeted apps that meet specific requirements are likely a different matter.