It all began when Twitter, a service which earned its fame by providing a robust API for developers to create apps to interact with the system, limited third-party apps to 100.000 users (tokens).
In other words, when an app hits 100.000 users, it must contact Twitter and, probably, won't be able to welcome new users. Twitter showed signs of this change, warning its developers to not build "client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience".
The reason behind this is obvious, why would they want to restrict the existence of apps that reproduce the Twitter experience? Because they want users to use their site and official apps. Why? For the simplest reason in the world: Twitter makes money displaying ads and while its users use third-party clients it won't make a penny from those.
Then the first client hit the jackpot, Falcon Pro, for Android. After a couple of resets to eliminate inactive users and having reached the limit again, the developer removed the app from Google Play and enabled its download in his own website. However, this time Falcon Pro held a way to cheat the users in without a token.
This "outrage" will certainly not pass unnoticed and Twitter shall curb the kludge that allows it soon. In the meantime, now there's a precedent of abuse and Twitter could just shut down its API for third-party clients. This would kill apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific. But wouldn't be only a matter of time until it happens anyway?
I vehemently believe Twitter just savors the knife, sliding it slowly through the meat of developers before twisting it into a vital organ.
All that for the sake of advertising, it was even on the news a few weeks that Twitter announced it would give information about its users to advertisers so they can show "better ads". It doesn't get better, even with Google and Facebook doing that for a while.
Within this den of restrictions, Twitter is doomed to forsake its API, which made me consider looking at the development of another app, one you probably use every day: Gmail.
A few weeks ago, I found out that Gmail moved its ads into the inbox, camouflaged as real messages. As a good friend o'mine pointed out, it is possible that with the recently added tabs, the banner's click rates above the content lowered drastically.
Around the same period, I found a great analysis on how much of your screen is occupied by ads and links to its own services when you do a Google search: 7 to 13% and 0% on the phone match organic results in the first screen.
Take what changed on Gmail and the actual attitude of Google overall and you should get a bit worried too, after all, many of us have a Gmail email, although we don't actually use its web client. We use Mail.app, Mailbox, Outlook or even Sparrow. What all these apps have in common? None of them display Google ads.
Then, how to be surprised if Google decides you could only use Gmail's own client to access your email? It's a huge snowball, but whenever you don't pay for a web service, it must make money some way, one that is not always pleasant to us.
Of course, the internet has already tamed an entire generation not to care about its privacy, look if there were any protest in favor of Edward Snowden. I'm part of this generation, my life is an open book, but I care when this information is turned into ads that attack the space in my screen.
It's in the lookout for a way to avoid these ads and to keep using our dear services that rely on it that we acquire third-party clients. It's not beyond the natural order of things that those are soon abolished. The future of the web is straightforward: either you pay for the services or you endure to be surrounded by ads.
I pay 5 dollars every month for my App.net account and I love it, after writing this article, I also dumped Gmail altogether and found an awesome alternative in Fastmail. You definitely should give it a try.