Twitter is at it again. This week they cut off Tumblr from their API, affecting the ability for Tumblr users to find their Twitter friends on the (kind of) competing microblogging site. This move seems to further substantiate Twitter’s intent to bring everyone home to the mothership to consume advertising.
“developers should not ‘build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.’” – Michael Sippey, Twitter Developer’s Blog 6-29-2012
Clear and present danger is a doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States to determine under what circumstances limits can be placed on First Amendment freedoms of speech, press or assembly. – Wikipedia, repository of all infallible knowledge
Does Tumblr mimic the mainstream Twitter experience?
In a word, no.
But the latest Comscore rankings for July 2012 might shed some light on why Twitter doesn’t want to share access to their users with Tumblr. In July, Twitter had 400 million unique users. Tumblr had 290 million. Twitter’s concern appears to have less to do with upholding a sacrosanct Twitter experience and everything to do with eliminating competition for resources.
Tumblr can’t do what Twitter does…. but that’s immaterial
Tumblr will not be the new Twitter. Their functionalities will never intersect to the extent that anyone would mistake them for direct competitors. But think of the problem as a parent would:
I allow my kids “screen time.” Whether they’re watching TV or playing Wii or surfing the internet is irrelevant to me, they have a block of time to spend on those options. People aren’t much different. You have amount of resource (time) that you can devote to any particular platform. You may love Twitter, but you may love Tumblr, too. Participating on both sites diminishes the resources devoted to either.
The play for Twitter by cutting off API access was to make it more difficult for users to integrate into a community on Tumblr. Tumblr isn’t a threat because of its features, it’s a threat because of its audience.
Expect more tough love from Twitter. Sometimes you have to put your foot down when regulating screen time.