Mike Isaac

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Why Twitter Killed Tweetdeck for AIR, iPhone and Android

twitter_bird_380It’s not like we didn’t see it coming.

Twitter announced on Monday that it would soon kill off a few versions of its TweetDeck product in the coming weeks, ending support for the Adobe AIR, iPhone and Android clients.

It’s been the death knell many have expected, considering Twitter’s lack of pushing out updates for the three versions over the past year.

“To continue to offer a great product that addresses your unique needs, we’re going to focus our development efforts on our modern, web-based versions of TweetDeck,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Most of the efforts going forward, as Twitter has made clear, will be on the company’s other existing clients: The TweetDeck found on the Web, the Chrome-based app, the Mac client and the PC client.

Knee-jerk reaction: It’s a bummer for anyone using TweetDeck on the three platforms being killed. And it isn’t immediately clear as to why it’s happening.

But it’s there, in the blog post. Just read between the lines.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices,” the post states.

That means that — in part, at least — perhaps continuing to support the iPhone and Android versions of TweetDeck just wasn’t worth it compared to the number of people using it. Not only that, but Twitter is investing loads of time and effort into its official Twitter app for iOS and Android. It’s been pretty obvious which apps Twitter wants its users to install on their phones.

But then why kill the desktop-based AIR app? Twitter doesn’t say anything about decreased usage in the AIR version of TweetDeck, and there’s no real explanation of this in the blog post.

My best guess: To be frank, the TweetDeck Adobe AIR app just plain sucked. It required updates often and was shaky in how well it functioned even when fully up to date. It also seemed to be a major resource hog on a computer’s operating system, and it wasn’t the most stable app in terms of crashing.

So perhaps Twitter wanted to rip the Band-Aid off a crummy user experience inside another supported app, and shift its users over to the PC and Mac versions if they still want a desktop client. Twitter does, after all, want everyone who uses the company’s products to have a positive experience with them. Probably doesn’t help to have a rogue AIR app act up for some, whatever size the user base is.

Then there’s the advertising display argument, of course. Twitter could be deep-sixing its AIR, Android and iOS apps to better control the way users see Twitter’s promoted suite of ad products. Can’t say for sure either way on that one.

Whatever the case, personally I’m a bit bummed. For its many faults (and believe me, there were many), I’ve used the TweetDeck AIR app as a power user for years. It’s been the best way to keep me abreast of what’s happening on Twitter in a given moment.

But now, I’m curious to see how my transition to the desktop version of TweetDeck will be. And perhaps more importantly, how other power users will take the news.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik