Twitter Acquires Atebits, Maker of Tweetie

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Twitter, which has flourished thanks to tools built by outside developers, is taking more of those tools under its own wing. In a move that is sure to rattle its developers, Twitter has agreed to acquire Atebits, the start-up that makes the Tweetie apps for using Twitter on Mac computers and iPhones. The acquisition price was not disclosed.

This marks a new strategy, as Twitter makes its first foray into providing a mobile and desktop client itself. On Friday, Twitter also announced that it helped Research in Motion build an “official” Twitter app for BlackBerrys.

In the past, Twitter has focused on its Web site, twitter.com, and left the development of Twitter mobile clients up to start-ups like Tweetie, Twitterrific and UberTwitter.

Ahead of Chirp, Twitter’s first developer conference next week, developers have been getting nervous that Twitter plans to build or buy more apps for itself, which could put them out of business.

Fred Wilson, an investor at Union Square Ventures and a longtime Twitter board member, stoked those fears in a blog post in which he wrote that many third-party Twitter services, including mobile clients like Tweetie’s, are features that Twitter should offer itself. Instead, he recommended that developers focus on other kinds of services, like business tools, analytics or gaming.

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