Tweetbot for Mac: The Anti-Review

Tweetbot for Mac was just released and the Internet, at least the geeky parts thereof, was on fire as a result of this, but not for the reasons you would expect. Indeed, networks like Twitter and App.Net were overflowing with mentions of Tapbots’ first Mac app. In most cases, thought, the discussion was focused on the pricing of the app, not so much on its features and merits.

As of the time of writing, Tweetbot will set you back $20, an admittedly premium price for a Twitter client. But isn’t a quality app worth something, at least?

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Although Tweetbot’s price is premium, I’ve been stunned by the reactions of some people. The exclamation of many give the impression that they feel entitled to cheap software. Here, I mean “cheap” in the sense that something is worth more than its cost, not the negative connotation. A phenomenon I found quite revealing is that the vast majority of developers fully supported the price, attempting to explain the energy and time required to create such an app. Many don’t fully realize that Tweetbot for Mac isn’t a mere copy-paste of its iOS counterparts. In fact, Tapbots had to bring on a third employee, Todd Thomas, to help out with the development of the Mac app, which is decidedly different from iOS development

Sustainability

One common protest is that Tweetbot costs as much as some Apple apps, like GarageBand, Pages and even Mountain Lion. This comparison has no grounds. Do you honestly think that Apple would price their apps in such a way if they were just a software developer? First of all, their iLife and iWork suites as well as their OS upgrades enhance the Mac ecosystem. It only benefits them to price their apps attractively. Not to mention, Apple makes a ton of money in other departments which allows this approach to be sustainable.

In the case of Tapbots, they don’t have an iPhone which brings them millions of dollars in profit every year. Apps like Tweetbot are their only bread and butter. It might be wise to think of Sparrow, recently acquired by Google. As Andrew Webster elaborated on The Verge back in July, it is very difficult to maintain a sustainable business in software development. This is especially the case nowadays, with the ever-decreasing price of software. As John Gruber put it, “screw the race to the bottom.”

High Demand & Scarce Supply

Something else that people often seem to forget is that Twitter has essentially limited the amount of copies Tapbots can sell. They’ve spent months working on this app, so we can only imagine the opportunity costs incurred there. Having that limit forces them to price the app in consequence of the finite supply. Basic economics here. Hence, if you don’t want to buy it because it is cost prohibitive, then don’t. This will allow other users who are willing and able to pay to enjoy Tweetbot’s experience. If you see this as being elitist, you’re missing the point. Tapbots don’t have a choice if they want their business to remain viable, and I believe it is in our best interest as Mac and iOS users to see them remain as such.

I’m not saying that $20 for a Twitter client is inexpensive. Nevertheless, I see the value in Tweetbot for Mac and am fortunate enough to afford to buy the app. I also understand the reasons behind its price. If they were to sell the app at $20 without Twitter’s API restrictions, that would be another story and I would then hesitate to make the purchase. However, this is not the case, and supporting indie developers and designers is my pleasure.


  • Ayodh

    Instead of arguing over long term benefits / ecosystem etc etc, lets look at the finance of it.

    So the limit for twitter before developers need to contact twitter is 100,000. Lets assume that on an average a user has 2.5 twitter accounts – I think thats reasonable. So it means that they can sell about 100,000 / 2.5 = 40000 clients. Which is about $800,000. Removing apple’s cut the developers gain to make – $560,000.

    Is that a reasonable amount? Don’t know.

    If I made a mistake in the calculation, please correct me.

    • Bruno Grande

      Assuming that amount is a good estimate, once you consider income tax, divide the revenue among the 3 employees and substract future support costs, the amount goes down pretty fast. Not to mention, this is without additional time spent on adding new features, which will not generate more revenue given the inability for developers to easily offer paid upgrades.

      • Bruno Grande

        *subtract

      • gotetrunks

        Are you 100% sure that they will add new features? Are you 100% sure that they will continue support this app?
        Remember Sparrow?
        Great app, awsome developer…
        But ok, we all get it: tapbot guys are saints, they will not run away. -_-
        I really don’t understand why you all justify so easily these developers… They’re good, we all know. No one says nothing couse their iOs twitter client costs more than any other twitter app. Everybody appreciate their job. But now… i think they cross the line.

      • Ayodh

        Thats actually a good question. After the developers finish selling the 40,000 or so apps, and cant sell any more, what incentive do they have to do anything? Wont they move on to the next app. I dont see any development in TapBots previous apps. Look at calcbot, weightbot or pastebot. Are there any new features in the last year?

    • http://www.nickcornaglia.com Nick Cornaglia

      The AVERAGE user has 2.5 Twitter accounts?! That’s gotta be off, no?

      • Ayodh

        Do you think 2.5 is high? or low? If I was a developer, I think 2.5 is a conservative enough number.

  • ShadowRider

    Tapbots created an awesome product, it’s beautiful, easy to use, it just puts the smile on peoples faces.

    All of these just proves that they are awesome developers and designers.

    Let’s take a look at the price though, it’s $20. Why? Because they suck as business people, they failed to settle an agreement with Twitter about the tokens. Tweetbot is not a service, it’s a tool to use someone elses service and it’s not free, when Twitter is completely free. So they are making money by parasiting on Twitter without paying them at all. I think Twitter is actually fair in this case.

  • Oscar

    Tapbot decided to do business with a Mac client version of their famous iOS tweeter client. They known too, before hand, about twitter limitations. Blame twitter is a mediocre argument to sell at irrational price their software. It’s true, tweetbot is a beautifully designed software that DOESN’T worth US$ 20. Then tapbot can keep their business going under that context but cry because of an stupid twitter limitation is just think that all of us are zombies without brain, this is an insult.

    Hard work with a right remuneration is justice, hardworking waiting easy money is just the worst thing.

    Regards.

  • http://nickcornaglia.com Nick Cornaglia

    They got my $20….reluctantly. My Tweetbot beta wasnt working for a week or more and I’ve been looking for a replacement as I hate the lazy, official twitter client. Pickin’s out there are slim. Tweetbot was my best choice by far.

  • gerdez

    Yadda-yadda. They want to monetize on a software that has expiration date. Fool your self all you want thinking otherwise. 20 bucks? Really? For what?

  • to

    $20 for a good piece of Software is still cheap.
    People really got to rethink their attitude towards the cost of Software. If everything is priced at $1.99 or $2.99 there will be no developers left soon.
    Only a handful of iOS-Developers can make a living from their apps.
    In case of Tapbot they have to run a company, pay their rents and bills.
    And they often work long and hard before they see any money at all, when they are about to release a new software.
    The system of the MAS makes it even harder for developers – no real upgrade path or upgrade pricing… So they have to calculate for a longer term – everybody who uses the MAS should think about this.

    • Endem

      It’s a Twitter client. it’s not Pages or Keynote. Twitter clients go for… well 0 bucks these days. No one is reluctant to pay 20 bucks for software but for a twitter client it is too much. I was expecting it to be 10 and to buy it reluctantly because even it that case it would be overpriced for a TW client (with an outstanding set of features).

      I also want them to implement the connect tab in Tweetboot – for me it is a great overview of the activity that concerns me, without using third party web apps like favstar.

      Anyways, I’ll be buying if I don’t have any more choice. I understand that the API restrictions are stupid, and that the guys just want to make the thing feasible but it is quite a leap from the usual 5 bucks.

      • Jack

        Totally Agree with you.

        I am happy to pay for a good game at $20. Im happy to pay for a good text or graphic editor for $20. but a Twitter client? No way.

        Its funny. Just like those developers selling Chinese Character input software. ITs funny that we have to buy a software in order to type our own language into the computer.

      • Dennis

        I completely agree with you!

  • Sigilist

    Let’s skip the twisted and pandering terminology too typical of reviews around here.

    cheap = “underpiced” [get a vocabulary.]

    ecosystem = [gimme a break and drop the echo of AppleSpeak! There is no such thing inside OSX or any operating sytsem... even as a metaphor.]

    “Do you honestly think that Apple would price their apps in such a way if they were just a software developer?” –They would, and they did, because they have a better view of what influences profitability on both one product and interactively across many than you do. Your oversimplified reasoning, and lack of better business sense, is not helping your viewpoint.

    I am not a fan of twitter; I use it to a purpose, and that’s all. I follow very few other twits (wink) on the system or what they have to say… because 99.9999% of Twitter is static vs. clean single. So don’t really have a need for TweetBot one way or another. But the one thing you skim over in here with not thought is the notion that corporation gets to tell a small business how many units of its product that it can sell. Hmmm… shouldn’t that be illegal in a [supposed] free market country?

    Then let’s look at that cut that Apple is taking. I say no more on this; it speaks for itself. So what is your answer (and TweetBot’s)? Hike the price… on the consumer, which only increase’s Apple’s share for doing nothing extra for the increased share.

    Any developer trying to make a go of it isn’t doing in just one, or even ten, products. That is not how things work. And any argrument that even hints at that as a example, that thinks a few months of development would be weight against a half a mil gross profit (after parasites take a cut) has seriously got no clue. Not to mention that good software will sell for years and not just one.

    $20 is overpriced for what Tweetbot does by its feature list, thought maybe I could see $10 or even $15 being acceptable. Bruno, this article really isn’t much better than the viewpoints you think you can counter.

    • tomandyourmom

      Wow, you really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

      So you don’t understand what the word “ecosystem” means? Or “software developer”? Or maybe it’s the word “just”?

      Or you’re just too damn stupid to understand how a limited set of tokens works?

      Either way, you’re a moron. Hugs and kisses, numbnuts.

  • Melwan

    Well, I’m sticking to the free twitter.com not because I don’t like supporting good developers, but it’s a principle decision. I truly think the price point for Tweetbot is heavily influenced by Twitter’s policy regarding limiting the account tokens 3rd party apps can use. Even Tapbots confirmed this reasoning.

    If I buy Tweetbot for that much, I feel like I’m supporting Twitter’s anti-consumer behavior. People are channeling their anger at the wrong party here. Please write to @support and let them know how you feel.

    • Bruno Grande

      I agree. I should have made that suggestion myself in the article.

      • Bruno Grande

        I should specify that I agree with letting @support know how you feel.

  • http://andreadimar.co Andrea Di Marco

    Great software must be affordable to all! Pricing strategies? Ok, till a point. I think:
    1 – Tweetbot has a lot of potential;
    2 – Tapbots has a really good reputation as software developer house;
    3 – Twitter’s cap on tokens is not yet clear to me;
    4 – Tweetbot for mac is overpriced.

    1. There’s always demand, especially in the apple community, for cheaper, better, smarter and faster apps. Obviously Tweetbot is not perfect, but many (if not all) see it’s routed in the right direction.

    2. Kudos to the team: you most often than not pleased me with lots of good apps and I’m always curious to see what’s next, as you are always trying to raise the bar a little higher. I love you :)

    3. The cap issue is a new one and no one really knows where this will bring the service.. Are you dead sure that’s not just a soft limit to prevent some kind service abuse or else? As far as I know, Twitter’s APIs are not written in stone. They can change and will. As far as I can get, right know guys, you already started and are still selling and, by your own statements, over-profiting from your app since day one, as the problem does not yet exist.

    4. Historically everything, and I really mean everything bringing better and more advanced technology to the masses reflected in some sort of human improvement. Internet? Peer-to-peer? Even piracy in some ways stepped us forward, and changed our culture, and brought us where we are today… Tweetbot, both as a Twitter client, and even considering it’s a very well thought software, is overpriced, given its audience and a whole lot of other arguments… I see Bruno’s perspective as too narrow, as he makes up just for a monetary issue, right here and right now. But value is not all captured by money as even babies know today. As I stated before, Tapbots is a well respected software house, and the widespread use of their products helps reinforcing this idea and building the brand… and selling more software easier for them in future… and more. A lower price tag means a lot more people appreciating not just the app, but the software house also, their business style and capabilities and even much more than that, which is value that only adds to the money charged. THIS makes the business VALUABLE and SUSTAINABLE, not just todays’ sales (which of course ARE IMPORTANT).

    Bruno, comparison with MacOS does have lots of ground. First of all it’s software. Then, if users see the comparison fit, you have to deal with it. It’s not about being right or wrong in this world, but just making sense and being understood by the people you want to make business with. What’s wrong in someone thinking there must be something wrong with spending 20 bucks for both a Twitter client and a whole OS?!? It’s not about the revenue stream… Then one might just say that Apple invest a little more money that Tapbots does… And rest assured that for anything you can say to strenghen your position, I can easily answer with something else… So maybe it’s just better stopping being this trivial and put it differently, or we will get to the point that we will all have to blame MacHeist for such an aggressive marketing innovation strategy… But then… down to the final users… people… They love MacHeist and CHEAP software.

    Sigilist, throw away that vocabulary. Language is a LIVE thing, and by CHEAP, in this context, I mean AFFORDABLE FOR THE MASSES. I mean giving people the right to use the best software available and pay for it… to use it… to make it a cultural object… to the point that by using it, someone will be able to improve its patterns even further… and make some even better software. I see that OPEN SOURCE, FREE and CHEAP software are those who finally influenced the whole industry more than others.

    The point here is not that is not fair for Tapbots to charge that much for Tweetbot. Those who think like that will just not buy it… Market law… My point is that they are trying too hard to justify the price tag in a way that is at least arguable.

  • Brooke

    Unfortunately, Tweetbot’s pricing only shows what Apple’s App Store is really doing for developers – slowly driving them out of business because of a new generation of consumers who think that anything more than $5 for an app is expensive.

    • Melwan

      Not true. I have no problem paying $50 for Bento, for example. It’s the cost vs. value principle. When the user feels the value exceeds the cost, they will buy the app no problem. Even in iOS, I know many people who purchased Navigon for ~$80. They felt their money is well spent.

      For Tweetbot, it’s a twitter client after all. Twitter.com is free, and many twitter clients go for around $5-$10. Even Tapbots themselves stated they weren’t happy about the price point.

  • Andrea Di Marco

    Yes, sure…

    Shame on you, GitHub, for collecting great software and making it available to all the mankind and making innovation not only possible, but faster than ever!

    Shame on you, Adobe, for making the software I want to use so inaccessible!

    Shame on you, Twitter, for giving away Bootstrap for free!

    Shame on you [whoever], for [whatever] ! As long as I have no interest supporting it… SHAME ON YOU!!!

    ?!?

  • Paul

    I really don’t blame Tapbots for charging $20 for this. I’m guessing they probably expected to sell over 100,000 units at the price they originally intended but this restriction changed everything. I understand and can accept that.

    I don’t know if I could be considered a power user. I only have one account but follow a lot of people and businesses. I frequently check my timeline and lists throughout the day on whatever device is most convenient. The same goes for Google Reader for that matter. I use the free version of NetNewsWire for that on my Mac. So even though the Twitter client and Google Reader client on my Mac are two of my most used apps every day I have yet to pay a dime for any of them. Incidentally my most used app would be my web browser (Chrome or Safari) which I’ve never paid a dime for either. With that said why would I have any problem paying for any of these extremely important apps? The most obvious theory might be that I’ve been conditioned to get useful software cheap or even free. But for me there’s two other reasons that give me pause:

    1. The way things are going with Twitter how can we know for sure that third-party apps won’t be shut out for good before long? Or at least blocked from taking advantage of certain Twitter features?

    2. There’s some halfway decent free or inexpensive alternatives. I was using Twitterrific before Tweetbot came along and it was serviceable enough to be sure. It even uses Tweetmarker which is a must for me. I went back to using it yesterday when my Tweetbot.beta stopped functioning. Well it’s not as good as Tweetbot but it does the job and won’t cost me anything.

    For those reasons, as well as the fact that I just collectively dropped $50 on the latest MacHeist bundle and the newly released Witcher 2 for Mac, I’m going to pass for now. It’s quite possible I may grow to miss Tweetbot and cave but for now that’s what I’m going with.

    • Bruno Grande

      Excellent comment. Indeed, I find myself having the (unfortunate) initial shock whenever I find an app in the iOS App Store which is more than $1.99 or $2.99. Whether I buy it or not depends on the value I will extract from the purchase. Hence, I bought Tweetbot. I open it every hour of every day, and the experience is absolutely phenomenal.

      I acknowledge how $20 for a Twitter client is expensive, but my hope here is that people look at software products as they do for hardware products: by considering the value, not the absolute cost. Needless to say, value is a subjective measurement and will depend on the individual.

      • Paul

        The value is definitely there. I wholeheartedly agree with that. In fact it’s funny how people are okay with willingly shelling out $50 for a videogame that they may only play for 10-20 hours yet $20 is too much for something that may very well far surpass that usage amount, assuming they don’t completely get shut out eventually.

        So if I do give in eventually I know I won’t be wasting $20 that’s for sure. But it would help to know more about the future of third-party Twitter clients before I do.

  • http://nataliav.me Natalia Ventre

    For me, Tweetbot doesn’t have a killer feature worth paying for. Besides I don’t know what is going to happen with Twitter desktop clients, with so many apps phasing out, it’s a complicated moment.

  • http://www.androidgeek.in Serra Stone

    I’m not going to use this POS until they add in a hotkey option! $20 for it and there isn’t even a hotkey for it! Otherwise it’s a great app. But until then, I’m sticking with Twitterific.

  • lexvo

    I think it is a very nice app. Unfortunately, syncing isn’t working 100%. I have to stop and restart the app to have it pick up the tweetmarker set on my iPhone.

  • Sheryl

    I agree with their reasoning for the pricing. They’re limited at how many copies they can sell. I have no idea how or if paid upgrades work in the app store.

    Either way, I’m not buying it. Twitter doesn’t mean enough to me to pay that price. I probably would’ve never even started using twitter if it weren’t free (though, I’ve admittedly paid for a ton of paid mobile twitter apps on iOS and Android)

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