It's a widely-known fact that Google's unofficial motto when it comes to potential monopolies, privacy violations, and other slightly gray areas of technological ethics is "don't be evil." Lately it seems like Twitter is taking the opposite approach. The latest victim of their incredibly frustrating corporate policy is TweetDeck, the once-loved power app for Twitter that was acquired by the service itself in 2011. In a rambling post on the official TweetDeck website, the developers mentioned that they are ending support for the Android version (as well as the iPhone and Adobe Air versions, and Facebook integration) in May.
The reason for TweetDeck's less-than-graceful exit from the mobile world is obvious: Twitter would rather you use their official app. They said as much in the TweetDeck post:
In many ways, doubling down on the TweetDeck web experience and discontinuing our app support is a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices.
...Additionally, TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone rely on v1.0 of Twitter’s API, which we are retiring starting this month. Leading up to that retirement, Twitter’s platform team will be performing occasional tests that will affect applications that rely on API v1.0. Over the next two months users of TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone may experience some outages with those apps before they are removed from their respective app stores in early May.
You may recall our less-than-favorable response to the new Twitter API policy limiting third-party apps to 100,000 users, and its subsequent effect on quality apps like Falcon Pro (among others). It's clear that Twitter wants you using official apps, and only official apps, and the user token policy is their passive-aggressive way of killing third-party clients. The popular theory is that this will allow them to increase revenue from ads and sponsored tweets.
Wanting to control the user experience isn't a bad thing in and of itself - after all, Google is about as open as megacorps get, and you still can't use a third-party app for Google+. But Twitter started with a wide-open API, and thrived while smartphones exploded - the fact that anyone could make great apps for the service is a big part of its success. Most of the outrage about the company's decisions as of late is because developers and users feel betrayed.
Killing off TweetDeck's mobile and Air apps is another brick in the wall between Twitter and power users. While TweetDeck wasn't the best Twitter app for Android, it had its fans, and was far and away better than the limited official app. The fact that it is a de facto first-party application no doubt let them feel a bit of security. And who knows what it could have become with more development - we never even saw a tablet interface, or a scrollable widget. No matter: Twitter's message seems to be, "Use our limited app, or nothing at all."
Desktop users will still be able to use TweetDeck's web app, Chrome app, and native desktop programs for Windows and OS X.