A report Monday in The Wall Street Journal claimed that Twitter is in "advanced talks" to acquire TweetDeck, a Twitter desktop client preferred by many of the social-media service's most active users, for about $50 million. "TweetDeck has emerged as a favorite of heavy users of Twitter, letting people track tweets about multiple topics at the same time," the story explained. "The program, which many people download and use on their desktop computers, also lets people write tweets longer than 140 characters, among other features."
But wait: Two months ago, TweetDeck was reported to have sold to UberMedia, a company that owns a portfolio of Twitter clients and related applications. Shortly thereafter, Twitter blocked UberMedia's applications, citing a variety of concerns including trademark violations and privacy issues, and then reinstated them several days later. And then earlier this month, a CNN report surfaced that claimed UberMedia was going so far as to construct a service designed to rival Twitter, suggesting that the bad blood between the two companies was even thicker than expected.
So if Twitter is attempting to acquire TweetDeck, it could be a reactionary counter-bid to UberMedia's offer. Or it might not.
Twitter has declined comment on the rumors, updating its official public relations Twitter account with: "We don't comment on rumors. We don't provide off-the-record background on rumors. We don't wink twice or release puffs of smoke (about) rumors."
It's true that Twitter has aggressively pursued an acquisition strategy in building up a suite of applications--buying Tweetie and turning it into Twitter for iPhone, or buying Summize and turning it into Twitter Search--and that it does not yet own or operate a desktop-based Twitter client. (UPDATE: Actually, it does, sort of. When Twitter acquired Tweetie, it also acquired Tweetie for Mac, which has been turned into Twitter for Mac. But it's a desktop app for casual users who do more reading than tweeting, not the "power users" drawn to TweetDeck.) So it would, one could surmise, want to buy TweetDeck independently of any competition from UberMedia. It's a sensible fit for Twitter to own the client of choice among its most dedicated (dare we say obsessed?) users, and these "advanced talks" may have been going on for far longer than we think.
To make matters even more complicated, UberMedia has never confirmed that it was about to buy TweetDeck in the first place (the company was not immediately available for comment).
This post was updated at 6:45 p.m. PT to clarify that Twitter for Mac is, technically, a desktop Twitter client.