20 August 2018

TechCrunch: “6 million users had installed third-party Twitter clients”

Twitter, apparently, was weighing data and facts, not user sentiment and public perception, when it made this decision. But some things have more value than numbers on a spreadsheet. They are part of a company’s history and culture. Of course, Twitter has every right to blow all that up and move on, but that doesn’t make it the right decision.

To be fair, Twitter is not lying when it says this is a small group. The third-party user base is tiny compared with Twitter’s native app user base. During the same time that six million people were downloading third-party apps, the official Twitter app was installed a whopping 560 million times across iOS and Android. That puts the third-party apps’ share of installs at about 1.1 percent of the total.

Sarah Perez

The outrage de jour on Twitter is over their deprecation of a couple of APIs used in third-party clients. The article above goes out of its way to present Twitter’s decision in a bad light, but the numbers reveal the truth: third-party apps are used by a very small percentage of Twitter’s user base – and download numbers are easily inflated by people trying out multiple apps on multiple devices, so the real percentage may be lower still.

I for one I’m happy with Twitter’s own apps, their long-standing inconsistencies aside, and I suspect the vast majority of users is as well. I’ve said it before, possibly on Twitter, that constant bragging about using third-party apps smells of tech snobbism: just as Apple fans sneer at Android apps, never having used a current Android phone, these users like to brag about using Twitter clients, while dismissing Twitter’s own apps. It’s quite possibly one of the most arrogant things in tech, to demand that a free service keeps supporting third-party clients indefinitely, just because you prefer another UI to the one offered by default.

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