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BW Businessworld

No Party for Third-Party

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There are two companies going through something similar right now; Twitter and Google, not necessarily in that order.

Both of them are worrying their third-party developers somewhat. Twitter wants to move on with making Twitter a business and so it needs to take some control over a platform that it claims is too fragmented. Ryan Sarver, Twitter's platform product developer says that with more people joining Twitter and accessing the service in multiple ways, "a consistent user experience is more crucial than ever".  He's actually asked developers to stop making apps and tools that focus on the basic Twitter functions.

Frankly, users don't seem to agree and are happy enough to pick and choose from the innovative apps and tools that third-party developers have been creating away while Twitter sat quiet. But on the plus side, Twitter isn't going to stop the use of hugely popular clients and is going to only insist that the companies that developed them follow a set of stringent rules on privacy and security. Great, but I wish they were handling it differently instead of seeming to forget that it isn't Twitter that thought up compelling ways of making the platform usable - it's the developers. For heaven's sake, you couldn't tell who was saying what to whom until clients like Tweetdeck came along.

The other company coming down hard on developers is Google. Now, unlike Twitter, the world of Android really is fragmented. And in so many ways. Not only is Android housed on many devices from many companies but it's in several versions, creating some degree of confusion. Something updates, something doesn't, something works, something doesn't - it's a riot of openness. The fact that Android is an "open" system, allowing third party developers to freely create apps and the user to freely customize an Android device, has been a big anti-Apple strength and has contributed to how Android has surged ahead to grab market share (at 31 per cent) from other smartphone operating systems. But things are getting messy, as was demonstrated nicely with more than one malicious attack on apps in the Android Market. Google is asking for quality. And unsurprisingly, most people support that. It's pulled out many apps it thinks might be troublesome and is also looking at licenses for services and devices that companies are providing.

Well, we're all for an ecosystem that can be both free-ish and clean, so good luck, Google.

In an interesting coincidence, both companies also have their founders returning to take charge. Co-founder Jack Dorsey tweets that he's back at Twitter and that new things are coming up for Twitter. Meanwhile, at Google, Larry Page is back with a bang, leaving the world wondering what he's going to do next.

Mala Bhargava is a personal technology writer and media professional. Contact her at [email protected] and @malabhargava on Twitter