Twitter Fabric: Is Twitter Building their own App Development Platform?

Rumor has it that Twitter is all set to launch their very own app development platform, titled Twitter Fabric. It is aimed at helping application developers have quicker sign-in processes, sell ads and avail analytics more easily. It will also benefit users, who will now see more extensions of Twitter in a number of web and mobile applications.
This project holds a lot of opportunities for Twitter. By encouraging application developers to extend Twitter, not only do they greatly boost the visibility and user-ship of their social network, it also serves as a great medium for collecting data about users. The features we can expect from this platform include,
  1. Digit, a free tool that enables application developers to sign up new users for their app using mobile numbers.
  2. They will probably extend the services from the SDKs Crashlytics (used for de-bugging, distribution of apps to beta users and testers and analytics) and MoPub ( for mobile ad exchange) to third party application developers.
  3. They might create an SDK marketplace within Twitter Fabric which will extend Twitter further by allowing third-party application developers to charge for development tools.

They are not the first social network to venture into app development. Facebook launched their own development platform, encouraging developers to build apps on Facebook way back in 2007. Needless to say it was a massive success. What contributed most to its popularity was the fact that it had something to offer everyone. App developers got to use this massively popular platform to build apps on also got to use Facebook’s development tools, and hence market their services. Users got to see Facebook diverge in a million directions, providing new games and services and rapidly increasing the number of things they could use this social network for. And Facebook themselves were the biggest winners, now getting access to a lot more data about their users and helping them back their services with good analytics.

However, more than 7 years in, this idea does not appeal to application developers and app development companies as much as it did before. A loss in virality, higher ad rates and heavy competition have pushed app developers away over the years.

It is quite surprising that Twitter is getting into the game so late. However, should they release Twitter Fabric, it will be interesting to see how they reel in application developers who are now making a conscious effort to stay away from building apps on social media. Staying relevant is undoubtedly going to be their biggest challenge.