Inside Twitter’s Developer Fears with OneForty’s Laura Fitton

After a busy couple of days, oneforty app store founder Laura Fitton is in the unique position as the unofficial spokesperson for a developer community turned upside down in the wake of the Tweetie acquisition and Promoted Tweets launch. As the company hosts its first Chirp developer conference, thousands of coders are questioning their role and ability to monetize on the microblogging platform. Always an optimist, Fitton and oneforty are intent on collecting and answering the many questions plaguing developers.

The Tweetie acquisition in particular has sparked wild speculation from the blogosphere. For the first time since Twitter chose as its official link shortener, developers are reminded of the sobering fact that building on a single ecosystem can prove shortsighted.

When asked how third party application developers can mitigate the risk of being cannibalized, Fitton agrees that integrating applications into the broader real-time web (not just Twitter) is always a good idea. While she acknowledges her own product is marketed as a Twitter app store, a number of the featured services integrate with other platforms.

We asked Fitton how her community’s developers are responding. She answered, “Tensions always exist between platforms and the companies that build on them. Entrepreneurs have to realize that and be ready to pivot in the face of competitive forces they cannot master. But really, in what industry do startups NOT face competitive forces they cannot master?”

She makes the point that Twitter web clients have been competing with the browser client interface for almost as long as the community has existed.

Says Fitton, “It hasn’t been within Twitter’s core competency to utterly master the user experience, so the competition there might not be as one-sided as everyone thinks. The company has to realize that a diverse ecosystem is going to remain critically important to their growth. If a client monoculture forms and diverse use cases/engagement styles are not well served, user uptake and retention will eventually slow.”

That being said, if Twitter does choose to acquire more application services, Fitton’s recently launched Twitter Toolkits suddenly become even more useful than their initial consumer benefit statement. Fitton’s toolkits feature curated Twitter application lists from high profile tastemakers like Guy Kawasaki, Brian Solis and Steven Rubel. With web celebrities openly endorsing their favorite apps, Twitter and other potential investors get a glimpse of what lies beyond download and usage numbers. Investors see which applications have elite web celebrity advocates – these applications then more attractive for acquisition.

Acquisition candidate or not, ReadWriteWeb’s own Audrey Watters’ wrote a fantastic articleto help you assuage any fears you might have as a developer. As for Fitton, she’s already met with a group of 27 top third party application developers and carried the group’s concerns to Twitter platform lead Ryan Sarver. In the future she plans on expanding this group and formalizing the process in which oneforty carries developer needs to platform executives. If you’re a developer and you’ve got Twitter-related questions or comments, you can reach Laura Fitton by tweeting @pistachio with a brief note and link to any relevant blog posts or material.

Photo Credit: (cc) Kenneth Yeung –

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