Twitter acquires one-man company behind Tweetie iPhone app

Social networking giant Twitter has acquired the company behind the immensely popular Tweetie iPhone app, and intends to make it the official client for the gadget.

Developer Loren Brichter, who runs the one-man software start-up Atebits, will now join the Twitter mobile team with the app itself to now be offered for free, cutting its price from US$2.99.

In an official blog on the Twitter site, chief executive Evan Williams said the decision to acquire Atebits was made after watching users search through dozens of clients available on the iPhone made by third-party developers.

“People are looking for an app from Twitter, and they’re not finding one. So, they get confused and give up. It’s important that we optimise for user benefit and create an awesome experience.”

“We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve entered into an agreement with Atebits (aka Loren Brichter) to acquire Tweetie, a leading iPhone Twitter client. Tweetie will be renamed Twitter for iPhone and made free (currently $US2.99) in the iTunes App Store in the coming weeks.”

Williams also said Loren, who won the 2009 Apple Design Award for the Tweetie app, will get to work on an iPad client for Twitter.

A price for the deal was not disclosed.

The move emphasises how important official iPhone apps are becoming for companies. Many big corporations are now making applications in order to market themselves on the App Store, while others are using them to add to their revenue.

It is also a massive sign of approval from Twitter. There are already several types of Twitter apps available on the App Store, some more advanced than others. Many developers wondered how the company would top some of the best and most popular, such as TweetDeck and TwitterFon.

The acquisition also comes as Twitter is looking to expand. It is currently earning revenue from deals with Microsoft to integrate its pages in search results, while the site itself is looking to expand with new programs and accounts for enterprise users. It has also hinted at an advertising model, which has yet to be released.

Williams also hinted at more developments in the mobile sector in his post. The use of Twitter on mobile devices has been a key development for the company, as the service has evolved as users update their Twitter feeds on the move.

“Millions more active, engaged, mobile users means more opportunities for all of us. Developers, services, and publishers will be able to leverage the Twitter iPhone and iPad applications to create additional innovative tools and integrations for users.”

The acquisition comes as the company revealed a Twitter client for BlackBerry, with many users suspecting the company will be working on other official mobile platforms soon enough.

The acquisition is actually Twitter’s third, after buying Summize and Mixer Labs, both of which assisted developers in building location-based services. The former helped the company develop its real-time search engine.

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