Twitter’s Innovation in Assembly

Twitter's Innovation in Assembly

Being as one of the ten most visited websites on the internet, Twitter has rapidly gained its global popularity soon after it was launched in July 2006. The success of Twitter has been widely studied and discussed about how it aligns with web2.0 principles. One thing to look at is how Twitter effectively turns its website into a platform, and fosters the innovation and evolution through the power of network and community.

As web2.0 mindset promotes data to be re-useable, it creates opportunities for companies to simply integrate and merge applications or services provided by others, and generate better outcome than the product standalone.

The web2.0 principle, “innovation in assembly” is described by Tim O’Reilly as

When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways.

Let’s see how Twitter utilizes a set of great practices to fully elaborate this principle:

    • Twitter offers API to its platform:

      Twitter’s growth can be attributed to Twitter API which not only allows the service to be further expanded to mobile platform, but also encourages external programmers to build an API upon it and create additional value to it. (Examples of APIs built on Twitter API: Klout API and Topsy.

    • For better development: Data remixability and support multiple standards

      Twitter introduced a new rule in August 2012, which makes the per-endpoint rate limits more restrictive and ensures that all API requests must be authenticated. Data remixability can be realized when data is uniquely addressable and supports multiple formats and delivery mechanisms (Twitter API supports XML, JSON, and the RSS and Atom syndication formats.)

    • Great API practices for the developer community:

      Twitter successfully created a well-structured developer support infrastructure which fosters an active community for programmers to exchange ideas and collaborate more efficiently. Full documentation, sample code in multiple development languages are provided within the infrastructure as well.

    • Build your business model into you API

      Twitter’s API focuses on how to make the service available to users through different platform and access ways. Its core Twitter API even made the service reach users through mobile platform before the production of Twitter mobile app.

    • Use Web 2.0 to support your platform

      Twitter applied Web 2.0 practices such as “reward users first” by minimizing the barriers of adoption and fully “utilizing network effects” to build a vibrant ecosystem.

    • Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty

      Twitter applied REST API methods allow developers to access core Twitter data. This includes update timelines, status data, and user information. The Search API methods give developers methods to interact with Twitter Search and trends data.

    • Learn from how your customers remix

      Twitter’s official iPhone application started from an external developer’s project, by which sufficiently illustrates how Twitter learn and adopt ideas from its users.

What’s more?

After the release of Twitter REST API v1.1 last September, the company has announced to retire API v.1 in March 2013, by which all unauthenticated client-side API calls will not be supported and other older widget users should switch to its Embedded timeline. Followed by the retirement of Twitter API v.1, TwitterDeck AIR and TwitterDeck Android/iPhone will be discontinued soon.

In response to those changes, Twitter promises its users a fast, feature-rich web –based application for modern browsers and a chrome app:

Twitter regards this action as “a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going.” And in the future, all new capabilities will be introduced on this web-based application first, then Mac and PC apps.


Twitter API changes kill off Tweetdeck apps, GMA News, March 5, 2013
An update on TweetDeck, by Twitter TweetDeck Team, March 4, 2013

5,000 APIs: Facebook, Google and Twitter Are Changing the Web, Adam DuVander, February 6, 2012
Twitter’s Other Ecosystem: Twitter-derived APIs Double in One Year, Adam DuVander, May 26, 2011
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Launches Social Ads Platform For Twitter With New Twitter Ads API, Michael Lazerow, Feb 20 2013 
What’s Driving Twitter’s API Changes?, Bob Fine, September 7, 2012
First Look at Twitter’s New Ads API, Geoff Simon, March 11, 2013