It’s starting to look like the upcoming version of TweetDeck, the power-user-focused version of the Twitter app, won’t be free. Security researcher Jane Manchun Wong has discovered a work-in-progress sign-up page for the app, which boasts that it’s a “powerful, real-time tool for people who live on Twitter” and offers an ad-free experience.
While the page doesn’t explicitly say you’ll have to pay Twitter to access TweetDeck, companies don’t usually advertise “helps you avoid the thing that makes us money” as a feature of free products (even if, like the current version of TweetDeck, it is). And wouldn’t you know it, Twitter’s already got a paid subscription service that it’s trying to sell to its power users.
TweetDeck is essentially Twitter Pro — and used by the type of people Twitter Blue targets
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the suggestion that Twitter’s looking to monetize TweetDeck. Earlier this month, Manchun Wong dug up code that seemed to redirect non-Blue subscribers trying to access the new version of TweetDeck to the Twitter Blue sign-up page. And over a year ago, Bloomberg reported that Twitter was considering a subscription service component to the app. That report came just before we heard from Twitter that it was working on a “big overhaul” for TweetDeck.
We’ve seen a preview of that overhaul. It’s extensive (and divisive) and likely took a good amount of work. It’s not impossible that Twitter’s doing it as part of its drive to seem more friendly towards the community and third-party developers, but it feels more likely that the company launched Twitter Blue knowing TweetDeck could be a huge selling point.
The $2.99 a month subscription already feels like it’s aimed at people who use Twitter professionally, so what’s essentially the pro version of its app would fit right into the service’s feature-set.
There is, of course, a counter-point to this theory: Twitter Blue isn’t ad-free. That fact even makes up two points in the FAQ for the service. So how would TweetDeck being ad-free be evidence that it’ll soon be part of Twitter Blue?
It’s a fair question, but honestly, that contradiction convinces me more — having TweetDeck as a Blue feature would let Twitter offer its paying subscribers a way to get an ad-free experience without it having to do the work of exorcising them from its web and mobile apps. It’s a bit of a win-win (for Twitter, at least).
Twitter said it had “nothing to share on this at the moment” in response to The Verge’s question about whether it had plans to monetize TweetDeck, and it hasn’t announced an official launch date for the TweetDeck update. When it does come, though, I suspect it gets billed as a great new perk for Blue subscribers. (And given how much my colleagues love TweetDeck, I also suspect there could be quite a few new subscribers to the service if that’s the case.)