Twitter is knee-deep in talks to acquire TweetDeck, one of the most popular third-party desktop apps for the social network, according to the Wall Street Journal. The usual "people familiar with the matter" reckon there's about £30m on the table for the London-based startup.
TweetDeck is hugely popular among Twitter obsessives because of its dashboard-like design. The free program lets you see several different feeds all at once, so you can group people you follow into more useful streams. It also has URL shortening, support for tweeting from multiple accounts and lets you tweet more than the usual 140 characters using the deck.ly shortener.
Twitter has so far made only a few small purchases with its mountains of investor cash. The most significant was the smart phone app Tweetie, which became the official Twitter app. TweetDeck also has free Android, iPhone, iPad apps and a version for the Chrome Web browser.
If the acquisition goes ahead, it's likely that these will remain TweetDeck branded, as the name has significant value, but become the official apps for Twitter professionals. Pro services are likely to be a key source of income for the company in the future, as brands seek to analyse what the public is saying about them.
The company sparked controversy in its third-party developer community in March when it warned that apps that simply replicated core Twitter functionality would not be tolerated. Seeking to regain control of the user experience and introduce more consistency, it said developers should concentrate on adding value.
TweetDeck was reportedly in serious discussions in February with UberMedia, a company with a stable of Twitter apps. Twitter fired a shot across UberMedia's bows by revoking access from its apps for a weekend, as our sister site. Twitter didn't explain publicly what UberMedia had done wrong, but it seems to have been connected to the March pronouncement.
Do you think it makes sense for Twitter to buy the most popular apps and keep the user experience consistent? Or should it leave well alone and let developers innovate? Let us know in the comments section below.