Just a few weeks after the company completely shut down third-party apps by cutting access to its application interface programming (API), Twitter is now launching a paid alternative for those who would like to connect to its systems once again.
Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 2, 2023
In a series of tweets published by Twitter’s official developer support account on the social media platform, the company explained that starting on 9 February, access to the Twitter API will no longer be free.
However, Twitter did not provide details about the price of the new scheme and stated that they will be back with new updates next week.
A Paid API Could do Little to Amend the Relationship Between Twitter and Developers
This is the latest move from Elon Musk to monetize the micro-blogging app he now owns as the company has to deal with elevated interest payments resulting from a $12.5 billion loan the billionaire took to complete the acquisition.
In the past, developers tapped on the Twitter API to create enhanced versions of the original interface that improve the user’s overall experience and even gave them some privileges that regular users did not have such as the ability to edit tweets.
None of the money that these applications made went to Twitter and that was probably considered by Musk as an unfair arrangement. As a result, shortly after the access to the API was completely shut down, Twitter updated its terms and conditions for developers to incorporate a new clause that prevented third-party apps to create improved versions of the original user-facing interface.
As a result, some of the most popular Twitter third-party apps like Twitterrific and Tweetbot were forced to take down their software from mobile marketplaces as they no longer could exploit Twitter’s dataset and user base.
They now have the chance to rebuild by paying to access the platform’s API. However, they may not be able to offer the same kind of services as Twitter’s modified rules prevent them from offering enhanced versions of the user interface.
However, they may not be willing to invest their resources into creating apps for the platform again considering how badly they were treated by Musk lately as they were not notified in advance of the changes that the company was planning to make to its API rules. This caused significant discomfort to developers and those who used their third-party apps.
Other parties that may be interested in tapping into Twitter’s massive data sets include researchers and political organizations that can study the narratives that are dominating the social media space at a certain point and how the public responds to them.
How Good is Twitter’s Business Doing Now?
Other monetization plans brought up by Musk thus far include the launch of a revamped version of Twitter Blue – the company’s premium subscription package – which now allows users to get verified after passing a relatively simple account and ID check.
The cost of Twitter Blue is $8 per month for web users and $11 per month for the mobile version of the app. The product is available in multiple countries already including the US, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Judging by the number of Twitter users who are now displaying a blue checkmark, the success of this subscription package should not be underestimated. If 1% of Twitter’s last reported monthly active users (MAUs) – around 450 million – subscribed to the service, that would result in revenues of approximately $600 million per year assuming that they all pay the $11 per month package.
For a company that generated around $4 billion per year in revenues, that is not a negligible figure. However, Twitter may have also lost a fair share of advertising revenues due to the controversial decisions made by Elon Musk since he took over and concerns associated with the proliferation of hate speech and fake news within the platform.
Since Twitter is now a private company, the public no longer has access to its financial reports. Therefore, it would be difficult to know how the company is doing and how Elon Musk’s changes are faring thus far.
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