| Sunday April 20th 2014

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High-Tech Frenemies: Twitter turns on its partners.


Twitter logoTwitter turns out to be just like every other venture-backed company, under pressure to deliver a payback to investors. To accomplish that, it may have to hurt some of its partners. Should anyone be surprised?

But the really cool thing about Twitter has been its business model. Instead of trying to do everything itself, the company threw open its doors and let other people build little applications that make it more useful. More than 70,000 have been created so far. Instead of going to its Web site to post tweets, for example, you can use Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Twitterrific, and Seesmic, written by outsiders. That open approach seemed like techno-nirvana, a free playground where anyone could invent and contribute.

Well, not anymore. Because just as Twitter was announcing its advertising scheme, the company also announced that it intends to scoop up the best apps and build them into Twitter itself. That means it will now be competing against some of its partners. Twitter recently snapped up a company called Atebits, developer of Tweetie, a leading Twitter client on the iPhone. In other cases it will just build its own version of what someone else has done. Either way, it’s rough news for developers.


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