Rapleaf, the most popular Twitter client is the web. After looking at the 20 most recent tweets from over 4 million Twitter users, it was clear that updating your status online via Twitter.com is still the dominant way that most people use Twitter, with 65% of tweets attributed to this method. As far as the third-party clients go, only a small handful of clients had enough users to warrant their own slice of the pie chart, and those slices were in the single digits.According to a new study from social media solutions provider
Besides the web, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of Twitter updates, the second most popular way to update Twitter.com is via text message. However, with 6% of tweets sent, this method only accounts for 1/10th as many tweets. Behind text messages, the next two methods are the mobile web and TweetDeck, the Adobe AIR application which allows for groups, searches, and Facebook connectivity in its columnar interface. Both of these accounted for 4% of tweets each. Next came the mobile clients, where iPhone apps proved popular. TwitterFon came in with 3% of tweets, the Blackberry app TwitterBerry had 2%, the iPhone app Twitterific also had 2%, and Tweetie had 2%. However, Tweetie, is both a Mac desktop application and iPhone app, so it's hard to tell how much of their piece of the pie comes from each platform. All other Twitter clients combined accounted for 12% of tweets.
The reason the list shapes up this way is because Twitter clients have significant long-tail distribution, reports Rapleaf. The top 5 clients account for 82% of the tweets while the top 10 account for over 90% of tweets. In total, the study of the 4 million users found over 1900 Twitter clients in use.
Also of note is how popular Twitter is as a mobile application. Nearly 20% of tweets are sent from PDAs or mobile phones.
Changes from Last Year
Last year, here at ReadWriteWeb, we ran our own poll. Although we didn't look at 4 million users as Rapleaf did, we did capture data on 37,248 tweets - a significant enough number to draw some conclusions. Still, since the sample sizes differ, we cannot definitively compare the two polls to each other; we can only observe some general trends.
The first thing that we saw when looking at last year's results is that IM, which accounted for 8% of tweets at that time, doesn't even register on Rapleaf's poll. It's possible that each individual IM client didn't account for a significant enough number of users to warrant a piece of the pie in the Rapleaf chart, but we would be interested in seeing the numbers combined for all the IM clients they tracked to see if there has been a change.
Last year, we saw texting at 5% and Rapleaf says they see 6% of tweets coming in through this method. This consistency is interesting because it seems to imply that Twitter's new users aren't updating their status via SMS more than they're using apps and the web.
We also see several clients which have fallen off the list, including the once-popular AIR app Twhirl which now seems to have lost out to TweetDeck. The Firefox add-on TwitterFox also didn't make Rapleaf's list even though it registered on ours last year with 2% of tweets. Twitterrific, though, remains popular, although it dropped from 7% last year to 2% on Rapleaf's list.
However, in our poll too, the web still dominated with 56% of tweets. These days, despite the growing number of third-party clients available, it's surprising to see that this number has climbed even higher. Perhaps that's because Twitter is now attracting a greater number of "mainstream" users who don't know about things like AIR applications or Firefox add-ons?
Comparisons with Other Studies
It's also interesting to compare Rapleaf's data with the data collected by Twitstat. They looked at 41,516 unique user/client connections over the course of 7 days, then repeated the process to observe the churn rates.
Although they also see the web as the dominant client, they have TweetDeck at #2, twitterfeed at #3, Tweetie at #4, and twhirl at #5. Besides the number 1 spot, that's a much different list. Those differences continue as you delve further into the top 10, where clients like HootSuite, TwitPic, and Ping.fm are mentioned.
Which study is more accurate? While Rapleaf looked at more tweets overall, the Twitstat study's sample is also large enough to not be discounted. So what do all the differences mean? Perhaps it just means that there are so many clients in use today, it's hard to really get a handle on which ones are the most popular at any given time. One thing it does show, however, is that there's one client that reigns supreme no matter how many tweets you sample. It looks like the real winner here is the web.