By: Hillel Fuld
Twitter, as a company, has made its share of mistakes over the years. These include implementing its own retweeting system that makes it significantly more difficult to see how many people retweeted you and who they are (not to mention the fact that when I use the Twitter retweet, I can’t add my two cents to the original tweet, it all kind of defeats the purpose), the Twitter URL shortening service, which seems to break more links than it shortens, or many others. But the good news was that with all these issues, I always had Tweetdeck to fall back on. Then Twitter bought Tweetdeck.
Wait, let’s back up a little for those of you who are not familiar. Twitter, as I am sure most of you know, is a microblogging service that allows you to share short updates of 140 characters with your followers. You can also add links to external articles, photos, videos, etc. Except, contrary to what all the hype might lead you to believe, Twitter is just the foundation for an entire ecosystem of applications that use the Twitter API (not going to explain that term, feel free to read more about what an API is), it is not the end, just a means.
So there is an entire world of Twitter developers out there from Windows applications such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic, Web apps like Hootsuite and Twimbow, iPhone apps like Echofon and Tweetlogix, and Android apps like Twicca and Twidroyd. Other platforms also have their share of Twitter apps including Ovi (Gravity), Windows Phone, Playbook, and the list goes on. There are of course apps that are available cross platform and the leading name in that category is Tweetdeck.
I have been using Tweetdeck for years, since pretty much day one, and I have recommended it to hundreds of people. Not only is Tweetdeck the best Twitter client on PC and Mac in my opinion, but the team and especially Richard Barley, who was the Community Manager till recently, is super responsive and professional.
Like I said, then Twitter bought Tweetdeck, which at the time was good news since, as I mentioned, I love the team and thought they deserved the acquisition. Many commented over the past few months that Tweetdeck updates, which were a frequent thing until recently, had slowed down. All that did not matter as far as I was concerned because Tweetdeck still blew its competition out of the water. Until now.
Tweetdeck recently rolled out a new Tweetdeck for Mac and PC, which came on the same day that Twitter released a new Web UI and a new app for iOS. The interesting thing about the new Tweetdeck is that it is native, as in a regular application like Office, Skype, or any other software you download to your computer. Until now, it is was an Adobe Air application, which is a pretty buggy and resource hogging technology. So, I was optimistic.
Then I tried the new Tweetdeck and all that changed. The interface is different, the options are gone, the customization abilities are missing, and overall, the experience is far inferior to its predecessor and even other competing applications. That makes me sad, especially knowing that this is the only choice moving forward and the old version will no longer receive updates or support. I used the new Tweetdeck for a few minutes then went back to my old version and have not looked back since.
The following are four ways that Twitter is effectively killing off Tweetdeck as the industry leader in Twitter applications:
1: No More Old School Retweets
With the new Tweetdeck, there is no more retweeting someone the way people used to in the good old days. Not to get too technical here, but in the old Tweetdeck, you can press Retweet and a tweet is automatically generated with the letters RT and the person’s name before their tweet. In the new Tweetdeck, you can only use the native retweet option, which as I mentioned above, is problematic, to say the least.
There is also a “Quote tweet” option, which essentially adds quotation marks around the original tweet for you to add your two cents. Now, essentially the quoting option accomplishes the same thing as a retweet does, and some might say I am arguing semantics here, but this, to me, is a classic case of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Retweeting is one of the things that made Twitter to enjoyable and viral from day one, I just don’t see why Twitter felt the need to go and change the way people retweet each other. Do you?
2: More Clicks, So Many More Clicks
Using the new Tweetdeck, it’s as if Twitter gets paid per clicks. The most basic functionality, that required one, maybe two clicks in the old Tweetdeck, now require for or five, sometimes, even more. Retweeting someone for example was one click to prepare the tweet and then Send in the old Tweetdeck, now requires anywhere between four and five clicks depending on whether you want to retweet or quote.
Adding or removing someone from a list is the same story, only a whole lot worse. There is no option anywhere on the UI of the new Tweetdeck to add someone to a list, unless I am missing it, in which case, we have another problem… You have to click the person’s profile, click Lists, and… yea, even this doesn’t work. It seems Twitter forgot to add list support in the new Tweetdeck… Which brings me to my next point…
3: Screen Real Estate
One of the best parts of the old Tweetdeck was the fact that you were able to see all your feeds at first glance without even clicking once. I had seven columns open at any given time on my 24′ display. Why seven? Well, I have my Twitter account and I manage the Twitter account of Appboy and inneractive, that’s three. Then I have my direct messages column and three columns for my favorite Twitter lists. I follow over 8,000 people so Twitter lists make it possible to stay on top of the relevant updates and people without getting lost in all the noise.
In the new Tweetdeck, you can have a max of four columns on your screen with the fifth column displaying a huge arrow to scroll right and see the rest of your columns. To that I say, why?? An entire column for an arrow? That prime real estate could have been utilized by Robert Scoble’s Twitter list of tech influencers and instead it is populated by an arrow? That is what’s called a design flaw that is a deal breaker.
4: Follower Count on Tweets
With the old Tweetdeck, you could configure that under every tweet, the app would display that person’s follower count. It was a useful and unique feature to have. It is gone in the new Tweetdeck. Why was it useful? Not because you should judge a person by their follower count, that is just crazy talk. The reality is that with so much spam being sent daily on Twitter, you need an effective way to separate the real people from the bots.
A profile picture is one way and nine out of ten times, a profile without a picture is a bot. Follower count is also an accurate tool. If someone follows a thousand people and has zero followers, there is something very wrong. Generally speaking, there is a correlation between follower count and the amount of time a person spends on Twitter.
Before you cut my head off, I am well aware of the amount of spammy tools that builds up follower count without the need for any engagement on the part of the user. When a person uses those tools, I will discover it in a matter of seconds by looking at their tweets, but when someone has a totally unproportional follower/following count, I am not even clicking through to see their tweets. Like I said, it was a useful feature in the old Tweetdeck. Any particular reason Twitter had to kill it?
Here is the thing, there are so many more issues with the new Tweetdeck to add to this list, but do I really need to go on when you have a perfectly fine old Tweetdeck to resort to? Yes, the lack of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare support in the new Tweetdeck is a problem, but I didn’t even get that far when basic functions that I do a hundred times a day are not possible in the new Tweetdeck.
Combine all that with the fact that Twitter rolled out a new Web UI on the same day as the new Tweetdeck came out and you have one less reason to ever open Tweetdeck.
Sad but true, and something we see far too often when big companies buy small ones. Unless things reverse themselves, Tweetdeck is on its way down and with all the problems with the new Tweetdeck, it is taking the fast road too…