The program seems to focus on products offering one or more of three types of value not currently available, at least not at scale, within the native Twitter experience: Engagement, Analytics and Data Packaging.
You can read more about the 12 companies that make up the first batch of these Certified Products, but this announcement needs to be read within the context of the news that’s been made of late surrounding Twitter’s API moves. It’s been signaling for a couple months (actually more than that but things got real within that timeframe) that developers should be wary of building anything that mimics the Twitter experience. Those warnings have caused much wringing of hands since each Twitter app is unique and therefore individuals have a wide range of choices when deciding which to use and were able to find one that meets their wants and needs.
Coming on top of all that drama, which included Twitter shutting off API access to Instagram (likely because of its new “owned by Facebook” status update) and Tumblr (likely because it increasingly competes for people’s limited social publishing attention), as well as the recent move to stop displaying the names of third party apps within the web interface this Certified Products announcement confirms what I had been suspecting all along: That all the discussion about APIs was never going to truly impact any tool that had significant crossover into corporate/enterprise usage.
If you’ve been paying attention over the course of the last few months you’ve seen Twitter has engaged in a number of partnerships with big brands and media to create dedicated curation pages around events and other big news. It’s easy to extrapolate such executions out to other executions. All that has happened at the same time that it’s tightened its rules around API access, user experiences and other facets of the Twitter ecosystem.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that Twitter has two things in mind when it comes to its future:
1) It knows it’s not an enterprise company. Twitter *could* build an enterprise-level tool (likely based in part on Tweetdeck, which it owns) but it knows that the preference in the enterprise market is for a single dashboard that allows for publishing to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and any of a number of other networks. And it’s either not going to do that or knows it can’t since, let’s face it, Facebook isn’t likely to give it API access. So it’s putting its eggs in the third-party basket, approving some vendors that add value as a way to build an officially unofficial solution.
2) It knows that in order to survive it needs to almost exclusively own the personal user experience. If someone’s allegiance is to X app that publishes to Twitter but isn’t owned by Twitter then it means they could switch that allegiance to a network that’s not Twitter pretty easily. The company also needs to own the user experience more fully in order to sell the ads on which its future is dependent.
So what does all this mean? It means that things are consolidating, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. While this is bad for those who believe everything on the internet is supposed to be open but good for those people within companies who are making infrastructure requests.
The line Twitter will need to walk, of course, is not to throw too much of their weight in one direction or another. If it favors media/business partnerships and certifications at the expense of the user experience the everyday individual will go elsewhere, meaning the audience for those partnerships dries up. If it favors the audience/developer groups at the expense of catering to businesses it risks seeing corporate usage become too disambiguated and likely see advertising dry up at the same time.
Right now it’s a delicate time for Twitter. Its future will likely be clear within the next six months as we see the repercussions of API restrictions go into effect, see how official partnerships and programs expand and other changes play out. Right now both businesses and individuals are sticking with it but it remains to be seen how much longer that will remain true.