If you’re wondering how Twitter feels about UberMedia’s efforts to roll-up many of the top Twitter apps into a single company, there was a pretty big hint today with the suspension of UberMedia’s UberTwitter, Twidroyd, and UberCurrent apps.
In a statement being sent to reporters, Twitter offers this explanation:
We ask all developers in the Twitter ecosystem to abide by a simple set of rules that are in the interests of our users, as well as the health and vitality of the platform as a whole.
We often take actions to enforce these rules; in fact, on an average day we turn off more than one hundred services that violate our API rules of the road. This keeps the ecosystem fair for everyone.
Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. 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.
We’ve had conversations with UberMedia, the developer of these applications, about policy violations since April 2010, when they first launched under the name TweetUp – a term commonly used by Twitter users and a trademark violation. We continue to be in contact with UberMedia and hope that they will bring the suspended applications into compliance with our policies soon.
Twitter also posted an article in its Help Center for users who hare having trouble logging into UberTwitter and Twidroyd (because they’re blocked), saying it is “committed to helping you continue to use Twitter during the disruption of these applications.” How can Twitter help those users? By pointing them to its own official mobile apps, naturally — even before launching into an explanation, the article features big links to Twitter for BlackBerry, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android.
If the suspension drags on, UberMedia could end up losing many of its users to Twitter’s official apps. And even if this is resolved quickly, the dispute underlines some of the big questions about UberMedia’s long-term potential, since it’s building its business almost entirely on top of Twitter — chief executive Bill Gross has said that he wants to be “the best partner to Twitter in enhancing the Twitter ecosystem.” That might be a challenge if the relationship continues to be combative.
On the other hand, Twitter has some incentive to patch things up with UberMedia, especially if the reports that UberMedia is on the verge of acquiring TweetDeck are true. With that acquisition, Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur estimates that UberMedia’s apps will be responsible for 20 percent of all daily tweets, meaning its user base can’t simply be dismissed.
Spats between a startup building on a platform and the company responsible for that platform don’t always lead to long-term trouble. Facebook and social gaming company Zynga approached what VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi called “nuclear war” last year, but they reached a compromise, now Zynga is reportedly worth $10 billion, more than twice as much as Twitter. (Of course, it helps that Zynga has made efforts to establish a presence outside Facebook as well.)
I’ve emailed UberMedia for comment and will update if I hear back.
Update: Gross told TechCrunch that the suspension “took us by surprise” but that he will make whatever changes are necessary, including the change of UberTwitter’s name to UberSocial.
And here’s the full statement from the company:
Early Friday morning, Twitter shut off access to its service by several of our Twitter client applications: UberTwitter, Twidroyd, and UberCurrent. Twitter then notified us that they believed we were in violation of several provisions of their terms of service.
We were immediately in touch with Twitter, and the changes they asked us to make were very small. As a result, we have completed the changes, and new apps are currently being posted to their respective stores. Twitter has assured us that as soon as those changes were complete, they would reactivate our applications.
Twitter also asked us to modify the name of UberTwitter. We began a process of changing the name three weeks ago by polling our users, and we’ve decided based on their input to change the product name to UberSocial, which we completed today.
To our millions of loyal users, we appreciate your patience during this temporary period. We look forward to continuing our innovations on the Twitter platform.