27/7/20123

Social thoughts.Comments

ThoughtsTowards the end of last year I rebranded the blog as "Social Thoughts" but little else changed. I have been periodically putting full posts on Google+ and then either reproducing, or linking to, them here but they are still all full length posts which take time to construct.

Recently, time has been at a premium and timely ideas have been going begging so I feel that it is time for a change of process to more accurately reflect the blog name.

From now on, as well as the full posts which you have come to expect, I will also be throwing in shorter, less structured "thoughts" similar to some of the items I have been placing on Google+ so that I can worry less about the form, grammar and structure and more about getting the ideas down before they go to waste.

I hope you like the change in pace - I think it could be quite productive.

Image by Untitled blue.

Social thoughts.

Thoughts: Twitter v Developers, client apps and the API conundrum.

A lot has been said and written about Twitter's continuing moves to reclaim its ecosystem and removing Instagram's access for the "find friends" feature sends an unpalatable message. It is not, however, completely unexpected.

TwitterDevelopers and enthusiasts feel let down and abandoned as Twitter tightens the noose. It is considered bad form that promises were made and broken after the service gained popularity on the back of the work of small developers but do people really think that Twitter intended to screw them over and go the route where aspects of the service are dictated by the need for advertising dollars?

Of course not!

No option

It is argued that Twitter could raise funds by charging users a fee for premium features or charge third-parties to use the API but, as I asked almost exactly four years ago: Is there a way back from free?

Would users start paying for something they have used for free for so long? Doubtful, and the suggestion would cause uproar. Would third-party developers want, or even be able to afford, to pay for API access after getting it for free for all these years? Again, doubtful and the longer it's been left the harder it is to do.

The comment from Biz Stone back in September 2007 that the API could be:

a way for us to potentially - depending on what business model we choose - do well there, business-wise

shows that charging for the API was considered but they didn't choose that business model - end of discussion. Twitter left it too late to fund itself using its technology so advertising was the only viable route.

Walled garden?

The company has made it plain for some time that it doesn't want its content diluted with alternative client applications or experiences but, not only do we see ongoing development of existing clients, but we get new ones appearing all the time. You have to wonder about the wisdom of continuing to build on sandy ground.

The stream is now flooded with links to external content so it is understandable that Twitter should want to cement itself as a destination by providing the ability to see as much of that content as possible without ever having to leave. Why should the company want to make this functionality available to those it cannot control?

Do developers have a sense of entitlement when it comes to APIs? Back in May 2010 in my post "Is the social web becoming too developer-centric?" I asked:

Where does the responsibility lie for development? With the service provider or with the surrounding ecosystem? The ecosystem can organically grow enhancements but shouldn’t the provider choose the main path?

Well, guess what? Twitter has chosen its path and, if the number of tweets originating from first-party (read Twitter's own) sources - at least 70% - is anything to go by, the general public is along for the ride and it is the developers themselves and a minority of power users causing the noise.

My way or the highway

Twitter committed to building a unified experience across all platforms and we are starting to see the fruits of that labour. As its own clients get more compelling the need for third-party options will reduce further even as Twitter tightens the screws so that those third-parties are unable to replicate that unified experience.

Thoughts: Twitter v Developers, client apps and the API conundrum.

Thoughts: Don’t forget content, but context is king.Comments

Following on from my earlier post "mobile" is now really about the blend of online and offline; enhancing one with the other - social + sensors.

Context

Google are ahead of Apple at present as they have implemented this at the OS level with Google Now.

Google has the advantage of holding its own data whereas Apple is in partnership with various data providers (and will rely on opening up for other areas such as transit information) but that will change.

The one thing that won't change (at least immediately) is the partnership with Facebook, by necessity that must get stronger, closer and more ingrained - after a disappointing IPO and a share price in free fall Facebook needs all the friend it can get.

And Apple needs the social data.

So how about this scenario:

FB bought Glancee -> Facebook integrated into iOS6 -> contextual awareness via a "Glancee type" route will become native in iOS

iOS needs to have location awareness and Facebook integration with the expertise of the Glancee team is the perfect route to achieve this as easily as possible.

Combined with data from the central mapping engine (and maybe acquire some smaller developers that produce location aware apps) Siri could start providing us the type of information supplied by Google now. Google, however, still has the advantage of the Knowledge Graph.

The advantage of doing all of this at the OS level rather than by relying on apps is that you create a standard install baseline so you instantly know that all those with the latest OS running on (probably) the past couple of phone revisions will all be equally capable - and others will want to upgrade to achieve that capability.

No-one is safe

The question then becomes when does Apple acquire or develop its own data sources before dropping its partners? I've said before that dropping Google Maps shows all partners that no-one is safe from the cull.

Perhaps not even Facebook. Then we might see serious moves on a Facebook Phone.

Image by Context Travel

Thoughts: Don’t forget content, but context is king.