In light of Twitter's recent promise to crack down on third-party clients that use Twitter's API to "mimic or reproduce" the original client experience, Benjamin Mayo decided to conduct a rather unscientific study to find out just how many people use those apps. Because Twitter does not release such information, Mayo ran a script to count the source of a random sampling of tweets from about 9:00 AM until 5:30 PM on July 18th.
The sample size is rather small at just one million tweets (for reference, as of March Twitter reported about 340 million tweets daily), but Mayo found that 70.8 percent of those tweets originated from first-party clients, which leaves third-party apps with about 29.2 percent. After further analysis, Mayo removed tweets from "non-clients" like Instagram and the Tweet Button from the total number, and found that 708,101 tweets out of 910,947 came from first-party apps, thus raising the percentage to 77.7 percent.
While developers and third-party app enthusiasts expect a large backlash if Twitter begins shutting down apps that violate its API usage guidelines, Mayo thinks that his math demonstrates the ease with which Twitter could make such a move. Keeping in mind the small sample size, Mayo's study does not bode well for the relatively small number of third-party app lovers who dread the day TweetBot or another beloved app may be shut down.