A number of third-party Twitter apps could soon be facing their final sunset, though that’s not really news to most of us by now. A lot of research studies, based on shelved Tweets, point to the insane jumps in Twitter’s API access pricing is to blame.
Twitter’s API is what allows developers and researchers to access Tweets at scale, enabling third-party analytics, Tweet content analysis, and more. Up to now, Twitter has offered basic access to its API for free, but last month, it announced that it would be cutting off this free access tier to supposedly ‘counter’ developers that have been using the free API for ill intent.
As Elon Musk notes, Twitter has now implemented a basic plan that enables significantly limited access, but this week, we also got a look at the new Twitter API access price list, which is relatively higher than they’ve ever been. 42 grand for a ‘small’ package? Kind of pushing it there aren’t we, Mr. Musk?
The list, shared by Wired (along with journalist Chris Stokel-Walker), shows Twitter now communicating to developers that they basically have to cough up a certain amount of money if they want to access its API. To compare, under its previous API pricing, the highest tier back then was only $2,899 a month. That was the ‘premium’ plan. As Wired explained:
“The cheapest, Small Package, gives access to 50 million tweets for $42,000 a month. Higher tiers give researchers or businesses access to larger volumes of tweets – 100 million and 200 million tweets respectively – and cost $125,000 and $210,000 a month. WIRED confirmed the figures with other existing free API users, who have received emails saying that the new pricing plans will take effect within months.”
The price hike will likely cut off many API users, which, as noted, will eliminate a lot of third-party Twitter apps and tools that have built their business based on the previous API charges. Many developers raised concerns when the initial API changes were announced, and various apps – including Tweetbot and Twitterrific – have already shut down due to these API changes. Others now look set to follow, and while some are exploring how they may be able to stay in business in the wake of these changes. $42k is just too much for many.
This marks the latest in Twitter 2.0’s radical business reformation plan, which has seen Chief Twit Elon Musk cutting costs where he can, which has bore fruit but has also unsettled many advertisers due to the sheer amount of deviation Twitter’s new rules are exhibiting.
Even with all of the cost-cutting efforts Musk has in place, Twitter still runs the risk of being cost-negative. Musk says that Twitter can be revenue positive by the end of the year, but it’s not there yet and might not even make it. The question now is if this will actually increase revenue or price out too many out of the market, while also lessening Twitter’s importance regarding the broader development and research ecosystem. It’s honestly a difficult and somewhat un-tamperable balance that Twitter has to magically figure out, lest it ultimately sink.