Is Twitter Obsoleting Businesses Based Around Proprietary APIs?

Twitter has taken course to limiting 3rd party apps that use its API. Their decision is their alone, so we can’t blame them, although it looks rather selfish and one-sided – you want more to happen inside your platform, which is yet another “closed” system. And we all love open systems, which twitter used to be. But let’s leave that and look at the bigger picture – a lot of startups based their business on the Twitter API (as well as the Facebook, LinkedIn, etc APIs). Now twitter can kill them with a single blow. And if that happens, this would be clear sign to developers never to rely on a 3rd party for the core of their business. “Man, I don’t want to rely on [new cool site]’s API. Remember what happened to HootSuite when twitter became a closed platform?”. And while developers can say “whatever, I’m building this stuff, it’s cool”, investors would be more than careful. Twitter killing many 3rd party applications may bring skepticism to anyone who ever wishes to rely on an API.

What’s the solution? Even if twitter cancels its “death march”, it may be Facebook or LinkedIn that decide to close their APIs. The answer is a more open ecosystem where no single entity owns the data and/or the API to it. This sounds too idealistic, and it is not clear how to be implemented in reality – someone supports a service mainly because of the profits from that service. Fortunately, “openness” is not contrary to “profit”, so we can hope for more open services to emerge.

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