While Twitter promotes their open developer platform, Social Times has confirmed a number of new deals which involve 6 figure monthly fees for access to the Twitter stream. Both Google and Bing recently announced deals which involve the exchange of access to the public stream for significant sums of money, yet it wasn’t clear that this practice continued on down the line (of smaller developers). While the stream may appear free, if you consume too much information from Twitter, you will be billed.
Rumors Emerge About Facebook’s Competing Firehose
If rumors that Facebook is going to open up their firehose to developers this April are true, the two companies could soon be competing for market research dollars. However Facebook has their own problems to deal with. Developers have been complaining about the Facebook platform’s reliability for at least the past month. Some have even gone so far as to speculate that one reason for Facebook’s cap on application virality, is a result of the company’s inability to completely scale a totally open and free platform.
Instead, Facebook has been driving developers toward Facebook ads to drive new users. The result has been thousands of dollars a day in revenue per application on the Platform (at least among the top 100 applications). What’s increasingly clear is this: Facebook, Twitter, and other social services are opening up their streams, but right now it’s shifting to a freemium model. Developers get a free sample outside of the “open stream store” and to come inside they can pay a hefty fee.
Stream Fees Make Business Sense
This sort of tension between developers and platform owners also has deeper implications for large analytics services. If you plan on billing out customer services which are based on stream data, the platform owners are watching you. That means analytics companies could all soon be paying social platforms for data in a model to similar to electric companies: you pay each month for the amount you consumer.
A number of companies Social Times spoke to while attending the SXSW Interactive conference, were actively involved in conversations with Twitter about paying for access to the unrestricted firehose. While public information about these deals have been sparse, sources we spoke with said they were paying six figure monthly fees. With the scaling challenges of many of these platforms (which has arguably contributed to the limited reliability of both Facebook and Twitter), it’s beginning to make more “business sense” to sell off data.
For now it appears that the data being sold will be limited to what both platforms already consider “public information”. Facebook’s decision on what information they want to include in the public firehose has not been publicly announced, it’s clearly in the midst of being defined. As for Twitter, if you want to start tracking every Tweet on the site, you better be ready to pay.