Twhirl was the de-facto standard desktop client just a few short months ago, but now, TweetDeck has taken this position. The last version of TweetDeck, however, had some serious memory leaks, which led a lot of users to look for alternatives. Now, in its latest version, TweetDeck has rectified this problem. In addition, TweetDeck has also brought support for Facebook messaging to the stable version of its application, as well as a number of smaller updates.Freely moving from one service to the next is clearly part of the nature of the Internet today. On Twitter,
Both TweetDeck and the new Seesmic Desktop were built on top of Adobe AIR, and both feature multi-column views, with the ability to create groups and persistent searches. Both programs, however, also have quite a few features that the other hasn't replicated yet.
The new version of TweetDeck, for example, can now display previews of of TwitPic images, while the new Seesmic client smartly keeps one column on the left side stationary, so that you can always keep an eye on your replies or direct messages, for example. Optionally, TweetDeck can now auto-complete usernames and add hashtags to replies. It now also features support for adding the Digg URL-shortener.
Seesmic also features support for multiple Twitter accounts and it can take a picture from your webcam and post it to TwitPic. Besides its support for Facebook, TweetDeck, on the other hand, has implemented support for more third-party apps like StockTwits, TwitScoop, and video service 12seconds, while the Seesmic Desktop is currently just focused on the basic Twitter experience.
Just a short while ago, making a recommendation for a good desktop Twitter client was easy. For heavy Twitter users who needed multiple columns to group friends and persistent searches, TweetDeck was the way to go. If you just wanted to dip your toes into the Twitter stream, Twhirl was the best choice. Now, however, making these recommendations is a lot harder.
If you want a multi-column Twitter client, both apps have their advantages and disadvantages, but the core Twitter experience on both clients is actually quite comparable. To differentiate themselves from each other, both clients will have to continue to innovate, though, and for us, as consumers, that can never be a bad thing. If you are on a Mac, we also recommend that you give Nambu a try, as it isn't encumbered by some of the limitations of the Adobe AIR platform (our review).
Is there still a market for a simple Twitter client?
With new players like the Mac-only Nambu, as well as other Adobe AIR clients like AlertThingy, the market for Twitter clients is continuously in flux, and it would be preposterous to try to make any predictions about the future of this business. It is important to note, however, that while there is clearly a market for well-designed, multi-column, multi-social network enabled clients, some of these extra features are probably just overkill for a large number of Twitter users. The majority of Twitter users, after all, are still using the web interface to access the service, and a relatively straightforward client like Twhirl is ideally positioned to capture a good slice of this user base - assuming that Seesmic doesn't abandon Twhirl in favor of the Seesmic Desktop.