I’ve mentioned it to friends, so it’s no secret: I’ve stopped working on Kiwi. At least for now.
The reason is very simple: Ryan Sarver, the head of Twitter’s Platform Group, made it very plain in a post to the Twitter Developer’s Group that Twitter would rather developers stop building clients like Kiwi.
From Ryan Sarver’s post:
“developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.”
Afterwards there was some backpedalling, so maybe existing clients are OK. Kiwi seems to be grandfathered in, so the news isn’t quite as grim as it first appears. Ryan’s a nice guy, I suspect the delivery was quite a bit more blunt than he intended. Still, the writing on the wall is clear: 3rd party clients are not wanted.
The Money Equation
There was a time when you could knock out the basic Twitter functions in a weekend. Things have changed. Building a Twitter client is no longer easy. Streaming API, multiple accounts, filters, themes, custom UI and the thousands of other tiny details have made it difficult. Building a full-featured Twitter client takes thousands of hours from both designers and developers. Risking that much time, energy, and cash is a scary wager. It essential that the platform you’re working on is eager for your app, eager to help you get to market, and eager for you to reap your well earned rewards.
Twitter appears, for the moment, to be tolerant, but not eager. Investing in the Twitter platform is a tough sell. It’s a long shot at best.
The Fun Equation
To be honest, the financials are never my primary goal. Don’t get me wrong, getting rich doing what I enjoy would be a dream come true. But, I’m perfectly content with more moderate success of paying a few bills.
The thing that keeps me working into the wee hours every night is that it’s fun, that tons of people enjoy it, and that it excites everyone. Twitter, has been slowly chipping away at the fun:
Twitter buys Tweetie competing directly with the 3rd party clients. Chip.
Twitter imposes a drop-dead date on OAuth migration leaving 3rd party clients in the lurch. Chip.
Twitter’s board members fire warning shots at 3rd party developers. Chip.
There’s just not much fun left.
I honestly don’t know. I’m just going to take a break from Kiwi for a while. It’s still for sale. I still support it. I’ll still fix bugs when they crop up. But adding new features and playing catch up with the other guys/gals is off the table.
For now, it’s time to freeze Kiwi in carbonite. With a little luck maybe a rogue jedi will thaw him out later.