News.me pulls app from App Store, makes Twitter the scapegoat

News.me, the socially infused zine for iOS users, is no more.

The Betaworks-built entity, which was eventually spun out as an independent company, announced Wednesday that it’s shutting down its digital presses to focus on other things — mainly remaking Digg into a desirable destination for news.

Launched in early 2011, News.me started its life as a New York Times R&D product that grew into an iPad application for reading the news bits flowing out of other people’s Twitter streams. With its release on iPhone earlier this year, the News.me application expanded in purpose and set out to become more of a social network for news.

The problem with that mission, however, is that it put News.me in competition with Twitter’s discover tab, which also aims to point out relevant articles from the stream. Since News.me relies on Twitter’s API, and Twitter recently changed its API guidelines to requirements, the issue escalated into something that News.me was forced to deal with.

“A few months ago, Twitter started building products to help people discover news. This move did not come as much of a surprise to us, but it put Twitter squarely in the category of ‘competitor’ to News.me,” Betaworks’ Jake Levine wrote in a blog post.

“When Twitter rolled out its latest API guidelines, the News.me apps were deemed to be in violation of the new Display Requirements. We had a decision to make: Invest meaningful resources in the News.me apps to meet the new Requirements, or pull the apps from the App Store.

Here’s what it comes down to: We don’t want to invest time and energy into an application that competes with a platform on which it relies.”

As far as I know, Twitter never asked News.me to shutter its application, nor did the information network revoke access to its API. News.me, however, does not adhere to Twitter’s enforceable requirements for displaying tweets and timelines, so a collision was inevitable. Twitter declined to comment on this story.

But in making Twitter the scapegoat — an easy target considering a brewing developer backlash — News.me makes itself out to be a victim. That doesn’t seem to be a fair characterization of the situation.

Levine declined to share user numbers or download figures for News.me, but reading between the lines, it seems fair to conclude that News.me failed to attract enough attention to warrant reworking the applications to meet Twitter’s standards. Moreover, Digg is now the focus of the News.me team, and a look at both products shows a clear overlap in purpose and style. Maintaining both Digg and News.me apps seemed silly from the get-go.

The News.me email newsletter, the service’s most successful product according to Levine, will remain operational for new and current users. The team also plans to continue supporting the iOS apps, already removed from the App Store, for the users who previously downloaded them.

Photo credit: christopherleonard/Flickr


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