On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it had signed an agreement for its Fabric developer platform to be acquired by Google. Google noted in a blog post that the tools would be integrated into its mobile developer platform, Firebase.
Twitter originally unveiled Fabric at its Flight conference in 2014. Fabric began providing modular SDKs and more to make it easier for developers to manage and monetize apps, among other tasks. It provides crash reporting, distribution assistance, and analytics to help better understand engagement and retention as well.
According to the Fabric blog, the platform claims 2.5 billion active mobile devices and a community of 580,000 mobile developers. Google's blog post on the acquisition said that Fabric will be integrated as part of a "larger, long-term effort of delivering a comprehensive suite of features for iOS, Android and mobile Web app development."
Crashlytics is set to become the main crash reporting tool for Firebase, the Google blog post said, building on the existing work Google has done in the space. More details were promised after the close of the deal.
Google's acquisition of Fabric makes sense, as both Google and Twitter seem to have a similar focus on open platforms and empowering developers. The question is really what this means for Twitter.
It's no secret that Twitter was heavily courting suitors in late 2016 in an apparent effort to pursue a full acquisition. And, while it was later revealed that they weren't planning on making a bid, Google was listed as a potential contender in some early conversations. Unfortunately for Twitter, none of the acquisition talks came to fruition, and the company remained on its own.
However, Twitter's move to sell off these developer tools could point to a new direction for the company...or, rather, a old direction revisited. Twitter is still an extremely valuable social tool, but the company seems to be ignoring its most valuable asset—its data. As TechRepublic editor Jason Hiner has argued, Twitter's future isn't in advertising. Instead, the company must refocus itself on its core product, and concentrate on the data it collects.
Of course, Twitter burned the developer community when it killed its API access back in 2012 and limited firehouse access. But, there's still time to turn Twitter back into an open platform, and make its data available for use in sentiment analysis and a host of other applications.
Twitter came under fire last year for hemorrhaging cash and cutting jobs, but the end isn't even remotely close for the social media giant. If Twitter can return to its roots and turn its data into an enterprise asset, it could get another shot at an acquisition, or earn itself some more time as a standalone organization.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google is buying Twitter's Fabric developer platform, which it will integrate into Firebase.
- Google will rely on the acquisition to boost its mobile development efforts, and it will use Crashlytics as the main crash reporting tool for Firebase.
- If Twitter properly leverages its data, it could come back out on top as a renewed company ripe for acquisition again.
- Tweets aren't tools for surveillance: Twitter pushes back against law enforcement (TechRepublic)
- Why it's time to give Twitter back to the community (ZDNet)
- The rise and fall (but mostly fall) of social media 1.0 (TechRepublic)
- Why Twitter could be attractive to an enterprise tech vendor (ZDNet)
- Why your company needs a social media policy (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.