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Twitter iPhone app could irk developers

Micro-blogging site Twitter releases application that can be downloaded for free from iTunes

The Twitter app for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch is now available.
The Twitter app for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch is now available.

Micro-blogging site Twitter has released the official Twitter application for Apple iPhones that can be downloaded for free from iTunes. Experts however warn that the move risks alienating third-party developers.

According to principal analyst Eden Zoller from research firm Ovum, Twitter is walking a fine line at the moment.

"...Twitter needs to be very careful not to alienate the developer community as they drive innovation for the service and also traffic.  It should be remembered that applications account for 75% of all tweets," said Zoller. "Developers do not want to go to the trouble and cost of building an app if Twitter itself is going to make a big play for same area. This is exactly what Twitter appears to be doing with its in-house applications for smartphones, and the Tweetie application it acquired in April stands out as a case in point."

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, says the decision to release their own application for the iPhone was based on demand.

"Comprehensive analysis of the Twitter user experience in the iTunes App Store showed very plainly that people were looking for an app from Twitter-we didn't have one so they generally got confused and gave up. Obviously, we saw room for improvement," Stone wrote in a company blog post.

Last month Twitter announced there were 100,000 applications for the site - twice the number available just five months earlier in December 2009.

One of the key differences that sets Twitter's own app apart from other existing third-party offerings is the fact that signing up to a Twitter account isn't required. Unregistered users can still browse trends, read Top Tweets, find popular users, and check out public tweets geographically.

The app can work on the Apple's new iPad tablet device but is optimised for the iPhone and iPod Touch. An iPad-focused version of the app is expected to be released later.