Canonical has been forced to abandon an "official" Twitter app for the forthcoming Ubuntu phone due to failure of negotiations over the use of Twitter trademarks.
Recently we ran news that Canonical wanted developers to write a dozen core apps that would be available when the Ubuntu Phone launches. The list included the standard smartphone apps such as calendar, clock/alarm, e-mail client and document viewer and listed four social apps - YouTube, Facebook, RSS Reader and Twitter.
News that the plans for the Twitter app had been shelved broke by way of a posting to the Ubuntu-phone team mailing list. by Robert Park, who has worked at Canonical on the open-source social media app, Gwibber, for the past eight months.
In response to a question asking if there was an issue with the core apps Park replied:
So far, Twitter Core App has been cancelled due to negotiations with Twitter. So, disappointingly, official twitter app will be a browser pointed at m.twitter.com. Facebook app is still on until we hear different from Facebook, but no matter what happens, Gwibber is full steam ahead.
Further clarification from comments on OMG Ubuntu and later emails to the developer team reveals that while there won't be a Twitter branded, Twitter only native application for Ubuntu-phone, this won't affect the inbuilt social media features present in the Ubuntu OS. These use the Friends engine developed by Park for the latest version of Gwibber.
Today, Gwibber is a very lightweight Qml app that wraps around our new social media aggregator that we are calling Friends. Friends itself has no UI, it simply does the heavy lifting of sending, receiving, and aggregating tweets/facebook posts/flickr images/etc.
Friends has more features, written in half as many lines of code, and near-total test coverage (gwibber didn't even have a testsuite). Qml Gwibber is very stylish and looks very attractive on the phone, and on the desktop as well.
In the same post he explains that while negotiations to use Twitter trademarks on a native app had failed, Ubuntu-phone's Twitter app is now going to be a browser pointed at m.twitter.com.
What possible good can it do Twitter to be so uncooperative? Surely having an "official" Twitter app on this new platform cannot be a bad thing from its point of view. What exactly is going on is a mystery, but it seems to indicate another reason to be careful when betting your future on Twitter.