Twitter and the desktop

Part of my DevNest talk last week was examining Twitter’s position on desktop clients. i.e. whether they wish to own the space that the likes of TweetDeck and Seesmic are occupying. They have quite purposefully owned the mobile space, most interestingly through their acquisition of Atebits which saw Tweetie become the official “Twitter for iPhone” and the most popular mobile client after I’m sure this will prove essential in reclaiming their brand.

– but where’s Twitter for Mac, and Twitter for Windows?

PhoenixTweetie for Mac came as part of the Atebits deal, but why hasn’t it too been relaunched as the official Mac desktop client? There have been rumours of course,  and with most things Twitter-related one has to interpret their actions and statements. Little of the coverage seems to mention Phoenix – aka #NewTwitter, which is a clear power play in the desktop space.

Raffi from the Twitter API team told DevNest over Skype that “Twitter for Mac is definitely a side project ” and implied strongly that the team working on is basically viewed as the desktop team.

One has to question whether desktop clients are required at all. Browser based apps are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and if Google have their way the distinction between the desktop and the browser will eventually disappear completely.

Of course, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re not far off. As it stands, TweetDeck and Seesmic are still superior products to the new It has a serious lack of notifications (direct messages/mentions) and doesn’t have anything like the powerful filtering and customisation features of the better desktop clients.

However, these missing features in are power user features. The mainstream user base that Twitter need to conquer are not power users. Seasoned Twitter fans that need these extra features will continue to use third party desktop clients quite happily, and I’d dare say that Twitter are quite comfortable with that. I expect to see Twitter using as a priority destination for new users, and more casual users. In other words, they can prioritise a feature set for the masses and keep those users safely under the Twitter brand. I expect this mainstream feature set will prioritise tools for search and discovery, as opposed to conversation and contribution – but that’s another blog post.