Thursday, April 14, 2011

Twitter Rival Reported in the Works; Could It Fly?

UberMedia, whose Twitter clients were suspended earlier this year for allegedly violating Twitter's policies, may be developing a competitor to the popular social network itself.

CNN cited three unnamed sources which claimed that the company is "outlining plans" to compete with the Twitter service.

"The service would seek to attract users by addressing common complaints about Twitter, such as its restriction on the length of a message and how it can be confusing to newcomers, according to these sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans," CNN reported.

Representatives for UberMedia could not be reached for comment, and the company had not addressed the matter on its Web site or its Twitter account.

In February, Twitter suspended the Twidroyd and UberTwitter apps for, among other things, adopting the name "Twitter" in its name. UberTwitter was renamed UberSocial, and the company adopted the name as well.


"Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways," Matt Graves, a spokesman for Twitter, said then. "These violations include, but aren't limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users' Tweets in order to make money."
By the end of February, the required changes had rolled out and UberSocial was apparently back in Twitter's good graces.

But Twitter has also been seen as recently hostile to the third-party apps that maintain an uneasy relationship with the parent service: adding features and new interfaces, but also occasionally competing directly with Twitter itself.

Take, for example, UberMedia's launch of UberChannels on April 6. The site established "channels" with Mashable, USA Today, Bleacher Report, and Duke University's basketball team to access tweets on those subjects. In effect, those channels are sponsored, permanent hashtags that go outside of Twitter's control.
"Users will be able to read the latest posts from leading reporters and other contributors without having to seek out and follow them directly," UberMedia said in a statement then.

Twitter, meanwhile, has relied on more traditional legal channels. "I'm not shocked. In fact, this is pretty much what I predicted,"'s Lance Ulanoff wrote at the time. "Twitter is now doing whatever it can to shut down third-party and competing apps that tend to drag people away from Twitter's desktop and mobile clients. I had assumed that they would continue to do most of this quietly through technology (by tweaking the API). Have you noticed how poorly TweetDeck works on the iPad? The Twitter app, of course, works fine."
The problem, as some have noted, is that the "plumbing" of Twitter needs to be scaled to hundreds of millions of users, in as real time as possible. Celebrities have also adopted the platform, and would have to be persuaded to switch.

Still, the aggregated collection of Tweets is quite small - just twenty terabytes or so.
So far, however, UberMedia seems to have sought to create a curated Twitter of sorts, a social approach to the Web and search that companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are either actively pursuing or have been said to be exploring.

By Mark Hachman /,2817,2383519,00.asp


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