Reflection: Twitter is to Blame For Tweetbot’s Expensive Price Tag

Tapbots earlier today released its highly anticipated Tweetbot app for Mac, although most users probably weren’t expecting the client to cost a hefty $19.99 from the Mac App Store. But before attacking the developer for charging such an outrageous price, one must blame Twitter themselves for this unfortunate situation.

Last August, Twitter made changes to its API policy, requiring that all third-party Twitter clients have no more than 100,000 unique tokens — in other words, users — within six months. As we shared earlier today, Tapbots describes the issue in greater detail:

Because of Twitter’s recent enforcement of token limits, we only have a limited number of tokens available for Tweetbot for Mac. These tokens dictate how many users Tweetbot for Mac can have. The app’s limit is separate from, but much smaller than, the limit for Tweetbot for iOS. Once we use up the tokens granted to us by Twitter, we will no longer be able to sell the app to new users. Tapbots will continue to support Tweetbot for Mac for existing customers at that time.

This limit and our desire to continue to support the app once we sell out is why we’ve priced Tweetbot for Mac a little higher than we’d like. It’s the best thing we can do for the long term viability of the product. We know some will not be happy about Tweetbot for Mac’s pricing, but the bottom line is Twitter needs to provide us with more tokens for us to be able to sell at a lower the price. We spent a year developing this app and it’s the only way for us to be able to make our money back and continue supporting it with updates in the future.

Time to reflect on that statement. Essentially, Tapbots is claiming that Tweetbot for Mac would be priced cheaper if it could support more users. But it can’t. Unfortunately, it appears that Tapbots will have to restrict downloads of Tweetbot for OS X from the Mac App Store after it receives 100,000 users, promising to provide support for those existing customers long after the limit is reached.

Tapbots was working on Tweetbot for Mac for one full year before Twitter decided to made this staggering decision, so it’s fair for the company to say that it simply wants to make its money back on the client. Tapbots suggests that you speak up to Twitter directly if you find this situation disappointing or inconveniencing, since there is virtually nothing the developer can do to change this reality. 

Tweetbot for Mac during its alpha testing period

It is clear that Twitter is trying to divert traffic away from third-party clients and towards its own official services, where it has tighter and more fine-tuned control over users. It’s unfortunate that Twitter is providing users with less methods of accessing the service, but it’s clearly an action that Twitter felt necessary to take in an attempt to monetize the social network and turn it into a profitable business. The general response to this move has been negative, although the social network has gone mainstream over the past few years and Twitter probably isn’t too concerned about losing a few established members to competing services like App.net.

Tweetbot still might be worth a $19.99 investment from some users, since it is a great piece of software that provides an excellent Twitter experience. I know because I used the Tweetbot client during its alpha period on Mac – before it was pulled, that is – and found it to be virtually flawless. It’s a dramatically better service than anything that Twitter officially offers. At the same time, it’s hard to justify spending such a staggering amount of money on a Twitter client, especially when there are a number of alternatives available at a much lower price — yes, that includes the several free choices available. What do you think?

Post a response / What do you think?