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Why I Am NOT Thrilled About Twitter Buying TweetDeck...

Oh, Tweetdeck, say it isn't so... rumors have been swirling for months and now appear to be confirmed by TechCrunch that Twitter will be acquiring TweetDeck for $40-50 million USD. A zillion other sites have written about this in the 21 hours since TechCrunch posted their piece (well, all the ones that weren't engaging in the feeding frenzy about Osama Bin Laden), but here's my view:
I fear for my TweetDeck!

You see, TweetDeck has become far more for me than simply a "Twitter client". It is more my "social media command console". When I'm in my home office I have it running on a large iMac screen, complete with all my various Twitter lists, Twitter searches, Facebook updates and so much more:


As you can perhaps see at the very bottom of that screenshot, I have a ton of columns in TweetDeck, lining up with various searches, lists, for different accounts. I've arranged the columns so I can easily move back and forth to scan what is going on with various areas of interest or for different accounts. It works great. Sure, it's an Adobe AIR client, so it naturally sucks up more CPU and memory than I'd like... but the convenience and power of the app make it such that I'll live with the drain on my system and hope that maybe some day AIR will suck less.

When I'm on the road, TweetDeck is fired up on my laptop providing me a mobile command center. I was even using it for a while on my iPad... although there were too many crashes and I actually tried out the "official" Twitter client for the iPad... and have admittedly come to like that client on the iPad.

Part of TweetDeck's strength is its support for multiple accounts. I'm currently using it to manage:

  • 5 Twitter accounts
  • 1 Facebook account (my own)
  • 1 Facebook page

The beauty of TweetDeck is that you can so easily post out to multiple accounts... or retweet from multiple accounts. If I post something to one account and then want to retweet it from other accounts, it is a simple matter of clicking the "retweet" icon for a tweet and then clicking the buttons associated with the accounts I want to retweet from. I've yet to find a Twitter client that rocks the multiple account feature better than TweetDeck.

Ditto the support for the "classic" retweet (that you could edit) and the "new" retweet (that is a pointer to the tweet). TweetDeck gives you the option to choose between the two approaches and, if you don't set the choice in your options, you get this box each time you retweet, giving you the flexibility to choose right then what kind of retweet you want to do:


I love it! It works perfectly for me.

Add to this the ease at spawning new searches... viewing profiles... launching new columns on hashtags.... and on and on...

It is, indeed, my social media command center.

So Why The Fear of Twitter?

So why my fear? I mean, on one level this is great for the TweetDeck gang... kudos to them for making a product strong enough to be acquired! (And I mean that, seriously... they are great folks there!)

But that strength is my concern... I worry that:

1. TWITTER WILL KILL TWEETDECK - Twitter already has an "official" Twitter client, at least on Mac OS X. Why does it need a second? If, as the TechCrunch article suggests, this is a purely defensive move by Twitter, will they truly invest in keeping TweetDeck alive and improving?

2. TWITTER WILL STRIP THE NON-TWITTER FEATURES FROM TWEETDECK - Note that I said above that TweetDeck is my "social media command center", not my "Twitter command center". One of the great aspects of TweetDeck is that it also lets me bring in my Facebook status updates, my LinkedIn updates, my FourSquare updates and, if I cared, updates from MySpace and Google Buzz. I've come to really only use the Facebook updates... but it's excellent to have both together in the same client. Particularly in that I can post to both using the single client.

Why should Twitter keep all this non-Twitter functionality in the client when all they really care about is.. well... Twitter?

Sure, they might not immediately remove it, but will engineers really spend time improving or fixing the non-Twitter features? When they have so many Twitter-related improvements to fix? I have to question how long the answer would be "yes".

3. THE THREAT TO THE LARGER TWITTER ECOSYSTEM - On a more macro level, I worry about the acquisition of TweetDeck putting even more of a chill on third-party development than is already there. Twitter is at a point where they really have to choose between being an "open" platform or being an entire solution or service. They certainly seem to want to be more of the entire solution... and further client consolidation is only going to drive that.

And we, as users very definitely lose if there is not a broader ecosystem.

In the end...

Ultimately it may be that TweetDeck needs this acquisition. I don't know their finances or what they are trying to do. It may be that this is their best path to growth.

And maybe my fears will be unfounded and Twitter will let TweetDeck thrive and grow as the multi-service command center that it is.

And maybe the rumors of the acquisition may be completely unfounded...

It just does cause me to be concerned.

What about you? Do the rumors concern you? What concerns you most about a potential acquisition of TweetDeck by Twitter?

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