In a move that will strike fear in the hearts of every Twitter client company out there, the company Twitter has made its first client acquisition, though a focused one: it has acquired Tweetie, one of the most popular iPhone Twitter clients, according to a company blog post late Friday evening. Here’s the slightly thin rationale of why it bought one: “Careful analysis of the Twitter user experience in the iTunes AppStore revealed massive room for improvement. People are looking for an app from Twitter, and they’re not finding one. So, they get confused and give up. It’s important that we optimize for user benefit and create an awesome experience.” I use Echofon and am pretty satisfied with it; others I know use TweetDeck for it and have also had generally good reviews for it.
Taking a page from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) playbook, it will make the Tweetie app free through iTunes, currently retailing at $2.99. Tweetie will be renamed Twitter for iPhone. The company will also work with the developer of Tweetie, Loren Brichter, to build a Twitter iPad app. Here’s how it sees benefiting the developer and publisher community at large: “Developers, services, and publishers will be able to leverage the Twitter iPhone and iPad applications to create additional innovative tools and integrations for users.”
Does this foreshadow more land-grab moves on desktop and other mobile platforms?
Twitter investor Fred Wilson said as much in a controversial blog post that reverberated online last week. Loic Le Muer, creator of the popular Twitter-client Seesmic, told SAI in a story posted earlier today that being a Twitter-only client is dangerous these days because “if Twitter-only application is crucial enough to the use of Twitter, Twitter might just clone it and crush it,” the story says. TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth told SAI: “I’ve no idea what Twitter are planning but it wouldn’t suprise me if they now deem it important to own more eyeballs.” A large subset of this happened already, with this acquisition announcement, and the move earlier today, when Twitter announced its own “official” client for Blackberry.
And what could Twitter buy next? At the most basic level, it could make a move for something like Twitpic, the most popular photo app, or TwitVid, the video app. Then as it hones out its business model, it could look for Twitter analytics clients, and possibly some monetization or ad plays in the space. And at the risk of repeating, read Wilson’s post again more carefully, and you may find most of the hints there.