Twitter nabs top app maker

Mathew Ingram, GigaOm

(GigaOm) -- Just two days after comments by Twitter investor Fred Wilson made third-party Twitter developers nervous about what the company might do, those fears have become reality: The company announced Friday that it has acquired Atebits, the maker of Tweetie, one of the top Twitter apps for the iPhone. According to a post by co-founder and CEO Evan Williams on the Twitter blog, the app will be renamed Twitter for iPhone and will now be free (previously, the pro version of Tweetie cost $2.99 to download). Developer Loren Brichter said on his blog that he is joining Twitter's mobile team and will be developing Tweetie for the iPad.

Developers and other observers immediately started analyzing the purchase as soon as the news broke. Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon connected Fred Wilson's comments ? which the VC blogger denied were about any specific future action by the company ? with the Tweetie acquisition, saying: "Wow, weird coincidence! a Twitter board member blogged about killing twitter apps the same week Twitter released/bought 2 clients!" Engadget editor Nilay Patel said that Twitter buying Tweetie was "roughly equivalent to Microsoft building it's own WP7 phone -- bye bye, ecosystem."

Former Engadget editor and gdgt co-founder Ryan Block said: "As of today, if your app depends on Twitter for anything other than identity or content syndication, you are officially on notice." Some developers even formed their own unofficial "union" with a Twitter hashtag ? the #unionoftwitterapps, and there is plenty of discussion pro and con about the deal on a Google group for Twitter developers. Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber wrote that "there's going to be some heavy drinking tonight from developers of other iPhone OS Twitter API clients." To top of page

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