February 4, 2011 11:42 pm

Competing with Twitter

Tweetdeck is typical of many of Silicon Roundabout companies: it may not have invented Twitter but has built a business on its coat-tails.

Tweetdeck shows its users a flow of updates from Twitter and Facebook, and allows them to create columns tracking particular phrases, such as a product or company.

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Iain Dodsworth, a former developer at Prudential Financial and BSkyB, created Tweetdeck in 2008 because he wanted a more sophisticated way to use Twitter.

Two years later, Tweetdeck has expanded to include other sites, such as Facebook and Foursquare. It is now one of the most popular software for “power users” of social media, with more than 20m downloads.

Tweetdeck is also flying the flag for British innovation abroad, becoming the first developer outside the US to be featured by Google on an application store for its Chrome web browser.

Because the app is free to use, Tweetdeck is still considering how best to make money. One idea is to add a sponsorship to the app, while the recent release of Deck.ly – which lets Tweetdeck users break Twitter’s 140-character limit – provides a new platform for expansion.

“We don’t know where social media is going to end up so we have to think about what’s next,” says Mr Dodsworth.

While it is still on good terms with Twitter, Tweetdeck faces a challenge as the Californian company improves its own site and becomes less welcoming to third-party developers.

“Let’s be honest – we are competing with Twitter on a daily basis,” Mr Dodsworth says. “We are fighting for the people that use the same service. Our users are a higher level and they want more – those are people that Twitter doesn’t want to compete for.”

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