Would 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.
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.
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.)