The solution Twitter has taken involves barricading the walled garden, keeping the valuable tweet data inside Twitter, and removing all incentives for people to move to other, similar platforms.
The problem with this solution is that Twitter was built on the backs of the very developers it is now blocking. It now expects those developers to continue supporting Twitter by syndicating content into its platform, but it no longer wants to provide any value to developers in return. This is an extremely dangerous position because it creates resentment in the minds of the people most likely to influence the future. When the disruptive competitor comes along – when, not if – who are the developers going to side with? And since Twitter has little value outside of its graph and contains only shortly-lived, ephemeral content, where the developers go, the users will follow.
Following Twitter’s revocation of Tumblr’s friend-finding functionality, there has been a palpable shift in tone regarding Twitter. Rather than the cautious assessment and thoughtful optimism of recent weeks, the latest API changes coupled with the company’s reactive cull of competitive service interoperability has stoked broad swathes of negativity online.
Whether App.net can exist as a replacement (or alternative) is far from certain, but Twitter’s position has unquestionably become destabilized for its foundational user group. I can only imagine that, if Twitter continues down this path, this destabilization will continue to spread into further elements of its community.