Archive for May 17, 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Twitter APIs and Pricing

Juli Clover:

Twitter today unveiled new details on its upcoming activity API changes, which will affect how third-party apps are able to access Twitter APIs and provide services to Twitter users who prefer to use apps like Twitterrific and Tweetbot.

Third-party Twitter app developers will be required to purchase a Premium or Enterprise Account Activity API package to access a full set of activities related to a Twitter account[…]


Twitter says it will be delaying the deprecation of its current APIs for three months to give developers time to transition over to the new platform. These APIs will be deprecated on Wednesday, August 16 instead of June 19, the original date Twitter planned to end support for the APIs.

Michael Glenn:

Twitter’s quarterly revenue was $665MM or $222MM a month.

Estimated active users are 267MM.

That’s $0.83 per user per month.

Why would they think $11.60 per user per month makes any sense?

Chuq Von Rospach:

In reality, priced to kill third party apps in a way Twitter hopes we blame the apps for.

Sean Heber:

It’s looking like it won’t be financially possible for us to afford the new account activity API from twitter.

John Gruber:

Twitter management obviously wants to steer people to their first-party mobile app and desktop website. I get that. But they already have that: the overwhelming number of Twitter users use exactly those products to access the service.


Twitter isn’t explicitly saying that they’re shutting down third-party clients, but I don’t know that it’s feasible for them to exist if they don’t have access to these APIs. It’s like breaking up with someone by being a jerk to them rather than telling them you’re breaking up.

Riccardo Mori:

What Twitter is doing to 3rd-party developers, is doing it purely out of spite. In the grand scheme of things, the sheer number of people using 3rd-party clients is too small to impact Twitter’s revenue.

Chuq Von Rospach:

They are pretty clearly moving to a model where brands and big names announce stuff and their fans listen, and those of us who use it to share info and chatter are inconvenient and in the way.

Previously: Twitter Shutting Down APIs, Twitter Abolishes Native Mac Client.

Update (2018-05-18): See also: Manton Reece.

Jan Dawson:

The big risk is that Twitter will focus so much on Twitter 2 that it fails to feed Twitter 1. Twitter 1 is the most vocal Twitter, and essentially all the influencers — whether celebrities, power users, or reporters — are in Twitter 1. Ignoring Twitter 1 as the company focuses on Twitter 2 would be a huge mistake, especially because so much of the content consumed by Twitter 2 is provided by Twitter 1. There’s a symbiotic relationship here, and one that Twitter has to be very careful not to disrupt.

The problem is that Twitter has another goal it’s trying to achieve: monetization. Twitter’s monetization strategy involves serving up ads, which in turn requires that people use Twitter’s own apps or its website to consume those ads. And yet Twitter 1 disproportionately uses third party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific. Because of Twitter’s insistence on monetization through advertising, and its general discouragement of clients that replicate the core Twitter experience, it’s started withholding some important features from the API it makes available to third party clients.

Via Nick Lockwood:

This Venn diagram is also equates pretty well with

Mac vs iOS users


Mac/iOS power users vs ordinary users

And similarly explains why Apple continues to grow and rake in profits whilst making decisions that frustrate its most vocal and valuable supporters.

Update (2018-06-02): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

US Cell Carriers Are Selling Access to Real-time Phone Location Data

Zack Whittaker (via Hacker News):

Four of the largest cell giants in the US are selling your real-time location data to a company that you’ve probably never heard about before.

In case you missed it, a senator last week sent a letter demanding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate why Securus, a prison technology company, can track any phone “within seconds” by using data obtained from the country’s largest cell giants, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, through an intermediary, LocationSmart.

Update (2018-05-18): Nick Heer:

While I was writing it, I couldn’t help but think that there isn’t much worse it could get, right? Well, what about if a similar location tracking application had no security — at all?

Update (2019-01-11): Nick Heer:

Two days after Joseph Cox reported that the real-time location of virtually every phone in the United States could be bought with few restrictions, Hamza Shaban and Brian Fung are reporting for the Washington Post that three providers have said that they would stop selling customers’ location data to third parties[…]

John Gruber:

The carriers’ defense is basically that they only intended to sell this data to the “right” people, and the fact that these middlemen are reselling it to the “wrong” people is against their “terms”. […] Honestly, for me and my family, our location data is more private than the content of our calls.

UIs That Amass Memories

Marcin Wichary (via Nick Heer):

Fascinated by UIs that accidentally amass memories. One of them is the wi-fi “preferred networks” pane – unexpected reminders of business trips, vacations, accidental detours, once frequented and now closed cafés.

Another? The alarm page and its history of painful negotiations with early mornings. (One of these, I’m sure, was for a lunar eclipse; another for sending a friend in Europe a “good luck” text.)

Some Thoughts on Google Photos vs. Apple Photos

Om Malik:

In my social circles — admittedly a very tech-centric community — it is hard to find anyone who has told me that they love Apple Photos. Usual refrain tends to be – “That’s a mess.” There are no magical aha moments. Photos are Apple and by extension, iPhone’s currency. And yet the software on iPhone and Macs resembles a two-legged dog dragging itself over the rocky ground. Yes, there is assurance that it is not feeding some giant ads-spewing web monster, but by Jove, it isn’t a fun experience, and not magical.

And that is the exact opposite of how you feel about the actual camera app and how simple and elegant it is compared to its rivals on other platforms. Magic comes from the way the software works on the hardware, and that is where Apple has put most of their photo emphasis lately: on the camera itself. Samsung, OnePlus, Google Pixel and Huawei are some of the Android phone cameras I have tried, and have been underwhelmed by them. Not because of the camera hardware, but by the overall experience.

Update (2018-07-11): Dan Counsell:

Good job

The Moat Map

Ben Thompson:

This relationship between the differentiation of the supplier base and the degree of externalization of the network effect forms a map of effective moats; to again take these six companies in order:

  • Facebook has completely internalized its network and commoditized its content supplier base, and has no motivation to, for example, share its advertising proceeds. Google similarly has internalized its network effects and commoditized its supplier base; however, given that its supply is from 3rd parties, the company does have more of a motivation to sustain those third parties (this helps explain, for example, why Google’s off-site advertising products have always been far superior to Facebook’s).
  • Netflix and Amazon’s network effects are partially internalized and partially externalized, and similarly, both have differentiated suppliers that remain very much subordinate to the Amazon and Netflix customer relationship.
  • Apple and Microsoft, meanwhile, have the most differentiated suppliers on their platforms, which makes sense given that both depend on largely externalized network effects. “Must-have” apps ultimately accrue to the platform’s benefit.


To be sure, the company has been more than fine: its developer ecosystem is plenty strong enough to allow the company’s product chops to come to the fore. I continue to believe, though, that Apple’s moat could be even deeper had the company considered the above Moat Map: the network effects of a platform like iOS are mostly externalized, which means that highly differentiated suppliers are the best means to deepen the moat; unfortunately Apple for too long didn’t allow for suitable business models.

Update (2018-06-02): Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

Once a platform dips under the Bill Gates Line, though, the long-term potential of a business built on a “platform” starts to decline. Apple’s App Store, for example, has all of the trappings of a platform, but Apple quite clearly captures the vast majority of the overall ecosystem, both because of the profitability of the iPhone and also because of its control of App Store economics; the paucity of strong and durable businesses on the App Store is a natural outgrowth of that.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy:

This 20-minute talk by @benthompson on the difference between platforms and aggregators is fantastic.