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If You Aren’t Paying for the Product, You Are the Product

We’re all marching in lockstep toward the end of yet another amazing product — a product that is being killed off simply because it is no longer part of its creator’s mission. This time, it’s the Adobe AIR version of TweetDeck, one of the most outstanding Twitter clients ever created.

This version of TweetDeck had it all. It let you pipe in multiple social networks. It gave you rich filtering options. It was the first app to introduce Twitter’s real-time streaming feature. It was fantastic. And on May 7, it will leave this world forever, being replaced by TweetDeck Web and desktop apps.

These apps are nowhere near as good, but they’re all about Twitter instead of those other social networks. When Twitter bought TweetDeck back in May 2011, who didn’t see this happening eventually?

The impending TweetDeck shutdown surfaces memories of Google Reader, arguably the best RSS reading application ever built. Google will shut down Google Reader later this year, despite its immense popularity, because the service no longer jives with the company’s desire to promote Google+ in every way possible.

Welcome to the sad state of the Internet, where great products are given away for free, competing products are paid off or starved to death, and then you wake up one day to find that these products have skipped town. And the cycle repeats.

Many people I’ve talked to have found Feedly to be a suitable alternative for Google Reader. I’m happy for them. I’ve tried, but something about the app just doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s the page sliding as opposed to simple scrolling. Yes, something that small throws off the experience for me.

Not many have found an app that holds a candle to the AIR version of TweetDeck, though. TweetDeck isn’t entirely dead — it lives on in Windows, Mac and Web apps that are still developed and maintained. But these apps were given a makeover after Twitter purchased TweetDeck and the company wasted no time gimping them.

And with Twitter’s hostile position toward developers who build client applications, I doubt we’ll ever see another Twitter app as good as TweetDeck ever again.

It’s yet another lesson for those who use the Internet and the services that live on it. Someone once said, “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.” It’s true. And as long as a company’s interests lie in gathering your data instead of profiting off of the sale of a product, you can never trust the products they offer to stick around.


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— Shawn Farner

Shawn Farner is a Harrisburg-based tech blogger who has been involved in online media for over eight years. He covers consumer electronics, Web companies, and gaming.


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