Twenty Dollars For A Twitter App? Blame Twitter’s API Rules

tweetbot-logoWould you pay $20 for a Twitter client? Especially when Twitter has its own free client, and several other Twitter clients are also free?

That’s the question that Tapbots is asking Twitter users. The company, makers of the excellent and popular (and free) Tweetbot client for iOS, has just released its desktop Mac version of Tweetbot … and it comes with a $19.99 price tag in the Mac App Store.

Why?

In its announcement today, Tapbots says $20 is “not that expensive” for a piece of software that might get used every day. But the price isn’t just a reflection of development time and costs. It’s in response to the restrictions set forth in Twitter’s new API:

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.

Tapbots is also asking users that downloaded the free alpha and beta versions of Tweetbot to revoke access so that the company can regain those tokens for future paying customers.

Twitter’s API changes have impacted millions of internet users — LinkedIn users can’t automatically show their tweets on LinkedIn, Instagram users can’t find friends via their Twitter followings and so forth. (See the related articles below for more.) But it’s possible that the $20 charge for a popular client is the first time you can say that Twitter’s API changes are having a financial impact on some Twitter users.

About the question I asked at the beginning of this article: The answer for many users is obviously “yes,” they’re willing to pay $20 for a Twitter client. As I type this, enough users have opened their wallets to make Tweetbot the No. 2 paid app in the Mac App Store.

tweetbot-app-store

On a related note, The Next Web is reporting that Twistory, an app that archived a user’s tweets in calendars, is shutting down. The company blames, in part, Twitter’s recent API restrictions.

(Disclaimer: I’m a Tweetbot user and, yes, I just paid $20 to buy the Mac desktop version.)

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Features & Analysis | Marketing Tools: Social Media | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Business Issues

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • cvglass

    I guess it may be a problem with twitter, but in the grand scheme of things I helped test tweetbot in the alpha and beta program; I purchased tweetbot for iOS, and when I paid for my upgrade to Mountain Lion and my upgrade to Mountain Lion Server they were only $20 each. I do not use twitter nearly as much as those upgrades, so I will not be purchasing tweetbot, and NOT releasing my tokens. I do not expect software for free, but I since I participated in the prerelease program, I was hoping for a discount or reasonable pricing. I will go back to Janetter, because there are no options in this new software from Tweetbot that I will miss.

  • dpgj

    Its scary that it will likely of vicious cycle when Tweetbot’s sales flatten, the company will not pay for enough Twitter API token, user experience will suffer, and the sales will go further down.

  • http://twitter.com/asad Asad Akbar

    With beta testers like you, who needs enemies?

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    Celebrations are incomplete without gifts. And when comes to gifts one can’t think of a better option other than flowers. Visit http://www.rightflorist.in/Bangalore/Bangalore_florist.asp to check out their floral collection.

  • User101

    Thanks for the info about Janetter. I just downloaded it and it looks good. I understand you completely. Tapbots decision about the pricing and their blaming twitter for the restrictions may be understandable but I dont think that it is a good decision. Astoundingly many user accept the price – at the moment. My interpretation: They create a feeling of shortage (omg stock maybe out and maybe i cannot buy it later!) and of course many of the geeks buy it at once. But all arguments take twitters decision for granted. What if twitter revokes that decision in the next weeks/months. What if twitter itself will provide in next time a client that challenges tweetbot in price and quality? And yes, tweetbot may be a good piece of software and it will be likely used frequently. Good apps can be priced high. But high price for a whatever-client is typically still clearly below 10 Euros. Software with a price tag of 16 Euros has more distinuishing functuality. I dont see why users should accept that netbots internal struggle with twitter should be financed with users money. And hey – the 2 netbot guys say, they intend to support the app even after the twitter tokens are used up and they do not generate additional revenue. Thats nice – but who guarantees me that they wont sell their company the next months, that netbot exists in 2 years, ….? No one.

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