Twitter's platform lead Ryan Sarver sent out a missive to developers last week telling them to stop building Twitter clients, he argued that users should rely on the "official" Twitter apps. Sarver maintained that, indeed, most users were already doing so: "According to our data, 90% of active Twitter users use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis."When
That assertion caught the attention of Sysomos, as Twitter's data seemed inconsistent with some of the analysis that the social media analytics company has done on the Twitter ecosystem.
So Sysomos took a sample of 25 million tweets from Friday, March 11. That data shows that 42% of tweets were made by unofficial apps - more than four times the figures that Twitter claims.
Which Unofficial Apps Are Popular?
Sysomos notes that among these unofficial apps, the most popular are TweetDeck, UberSocial and Echofon, all owned by UberMedia, a company that ran into trouble with Twitter last month when two of its apps, UberTwitter and Twidroyd were suspended.
Despite the strong showing of the UberMedia clients here, it's worth pointing out that these stats put the popular TweetDeck at just 5.5% of total tweets, down from 19.9% in a June 2009 report.
Why Are Sysomos' Numbers Different From Twitter's?
Sysomos says that the "disconnect" between its analysis and Twitter's claims probably comes from the way in which these figures were calculated. Sysomos has presented the client usage here based on the total number of tweets on March 11. Twitter's numbers comes from the total number of users.
It may be that the users who are on Twitter's official apps aren't as active as those who are using the unofficial ones. That's not terribly surprising considering that these apps tend to offer more features than you can find via Twitter's website - they offer analytics, better notifications, and integration with other social media services, for example.
Even though the Sysmos analysis shows that there is still strong usage of unofficial Twitter apps, that number may be steadily on the decline. The June 2009 study found that 55% of tweets were made on these apps, while Friday's figures now put unofficial app usage at 42%. As Twitter improves its own mobile and Web offerings, this trend will continue, helped on by what seems to be a strong stance from Twitter that it will be so.