on breaking a twitter app

Disclaimer: If you have no interest in iPhone apps, Twitter, or my opinion on software, you will want to skip this entry.

Long ago I used Twitteriffic for iPhone, and was perfectly happy with it. I only defected to Tweetie because the iPhone app offered Ping.fm integration, allowing me to utilize Ping.fm to update multiple networks all at once, and not only status updates, but blogging, micro-blogging, and photo uploads. The fact that Tweetie offered Ping.fm integration was big for me: I could read tweets and also update multiple services, all from one nice UI.

Then Tweetie became seriously unstable, crashing more often than not, and around the same time Courtney told me about Birdfeed, an app developed by a good friend of hers. Birdfeed’s UI was far superior to Tweetie’s, plus it had local caching, and though I was loathe to give up Ping.fm integration, it wasn’t of much use to me in its current state. I figured I’d catch Tweetie 2.0 when it was released.

When Tweetie 2.0 was released, Ping.fm integration was written out of it. Ping.fm-loving Tweetie users were upset. Some felt betrayed, and in an open-source world, there is always another client for betrayed users to buy. Those of you with greater marketing experience than I have should feel free to comment on the changing face of customer loyalty.

Tweetie employees had been using GetSatisfaction, a well-known customer support community engine, and of course a number of “what happened to Ping.fm” threads broke out on it. No one from the company answered clearly, and instead asked people why they wanted the integration. One Tweetie employee was quoted as stating the following about wanting to update multiple networks simultaneously: “It always calls to mind a small child repeating the same thing ad nauseum. Essentially wasting the time of all the people who actually like you enough to follow you on multiple networks.” (As of this writing, I cannot verify this quote because GetSatisfaction will no longer allow me to go further back in this conversation. I can, however, point you to where the employee states that he has “some well known negative ideas about Ping.fm”.

Now I don’t need to point out the logical flaw in this argument, but I will anyway for the sake of thoroughness: not all of my contacts are on the same network. For example, NO ONE I know from Second Life is on Twitter; they are all on Plurk. I don’t want to stop updating Twitter in favor of Plurk, or vice-versa. I want to update both simultaneously. Ping.fm is the tool I use to do that. Tweetie 1.0 allowed me to access to this tool. Tweetie 2.0 does not, and for no clear reason.

I disagree strongly with how Tweetie employees have chosen to handle this. The discussion continues over at their new support forums but the employee who has taken point on the issue does not seem to understand why anyone is asking for Ping.fm integration. He repeatedly asks people to tell him why, a tactic I recognize as a favorite of ineffective management. This tactic eventually wears your opponents down enough that they either (a) lose the ability to articulate what it is they want because they are so frustrated with your (real or feigned) ignorance or (b) give up because you are obviously too stubborn to even entertain an opposing opinion, let alone adopt a better idea.

Obviously I won’t buy or recommend Tweetie 2.0, which is a shame because it could have been the best Twitter app available. Instead, I will use a combination of apps until someone figures out how to do what Tweetie was already doing, and does it before they can do it again.

6 thoughts on “on breaking a twitter app

  1. This whole situation seriously ticked me off — and, unfortunately, I’m one of those that bought Tweetie 2 and then realized that Ping.fm integration had been nuked, because they didn’t actually _tell anyone_ that they were removing a feature. Their approach to this issue has been wrongheaded and annoying from the beginning, and while at first I’d have happily gone back to Tweetie if they’d put Ping.fm back in, now I just think I’m done with them.


    1. Followup: I’ve moved to Echofon Pro on my iPod Touch, and its companion desktop app Echofon on my Mac. The iPhone app supports Ping.fm integration, though unfortunately, to date, the desktop app does not. Still, at least I’m good when I’m on the go. The best OS X desktop solution I’ve found so far is Pingboard, a dashboard widget. It’s not perfect — it has problems counting characters, so I’ll usually double-check my posts in Echofon before hitting ‘post’ in Pingboard — but it’s working for now.


      1. Thanks for this. I’m going to check Echofon Pro out. Have you seen Birdfeed? It may not have Ping.fm integration, but it is the loveliest app, and so easy to use.


          1. You’re welcome! And I’m trying out Echofon Pro, so I have a question: do I disable Twitter posting on the Ping.fm website before using Echofon Pro to update Ping.fm?


          2. Nope — Echofon just sends the info to Ping.fm, then they send it out to whatever you’ve got configured. Remove Twitter from Ping.fm’s settings, and nothing will get sent to Twitter.


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