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Twitter Acquires TweetDeck For $40-50 Million, Says Source. Now, What Are They Gonna Do With It?

Back in April we wrote about speculation that Twitter was in ‘advanced talks’ to acquire the popular desktop client TweetDeck for $50 million, based on information provided to the Wall Street Journal.

This followed a story in February that potential Twitter-competitor Ubermedia was attempting to acquire TweetDeck themselves for $25-30 million.

A post last night on TechCrunch cites a source that states that Twitter has acquired TweetDeck, and an announcement will be made in the coming days.

If accurate, what does this mean for Twitter, and perhaps more importantly for its current users, what does this mean for TweetDeck?

The deal, which is estimated between $40-50 million in cash and stock, is seen as a defensive move for Twitter, who were likely increasingly concerned over the dominance and control Ubermedia would have by adding the widely-used TweetDeck to their ever-expanding library of Twitter clients, which already includes UberTwitter UberSocial, Twidroid and Echofon.

While this story isn’t 100 per cent confirmed, if true it will be interesting to see exactly what Twitter does with TweetDeck as there are a number of potential clashes within the software and the social space.

I feel like speculating. My gut tells me:

  • TweetDeck will be renamed to something like ‘TwitterDeck’ or ‘Twitter For Desktop’
  • They’ll completely re-skin it to fit more in line with the other official apps
  • They’ll remove all the non-Twitter social media services completely, which includes Facebook, FourSquare and LinkedIn. Seems daft to believe they’ll continue to support competitors in their space
  • TweetDeck For iPhone will be removed completely from the app store
  • TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth will be given a prominent developer role at Twitter (but likely gone within 6-12 months to pursue something else)

In other words, in a couple of months TweetDeck might look a bit like this:

Well, metaphysically at least. Now, I know what you’re thinking: why would Twitter pay $40-50m for something only to strip it and effectively close it down? What about all TweetDeck’s users? Where would they go if this happened?

Here’s the thing: Twitter doesn’t really care about owning TweetDeck. They only care about Ubermedia not owning it. And users are a zero sum game. Even if they completely ruin it, TweetDeck users are not going to stop using Twitter completely. They’re not that loyal.

They’ll still want to be able to send and receive tweets. And to do this they have to go somewhere, and chances are if Twitter releases a decent desktop alternative (although I’m not totally convinced that Twitter really cares about that) that’s exactly where they’ll go. The odds of them all moving over to Ubermedia products – or, indeed, any one product – are pretty slim. A tiny minority might do a Facebook and quit in a huff, but the majority will simply adapt. Like they always do.

In the bigger picture this has serious ramifications for smaller Twitter client developers, including Seesmic and HootSuite, who will now be competing on two fronts – the aggressive and competitive Ubermedia clients, and the larger and official Twitter apps. And what of new kid on the block TweetBot?

I have faith that HootSuite will continue to innovate and thrive, but there have to be some casualties in this war. And really from now on any Twitter start-up has got to be batting it out of the park right from version one. If I was a developer that wasn’t being taken under Twitter’s wing, or hadn’t received a call from Ubermedia, I’d be pretty uncomfortable right now. This isn’t the time to be playing it safe. Swing away, boys. Swing away.

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