snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister sees Twitter's latest move — to develop 'analytical products' based on Twitter data and to encourage third-party developers to do the same — as part of a growing trend toward a new kind of software platform. 'In the past, tool vendors have offered developers languages and code libraries that gave them access to computing functions in simple, standardized ways. In this new paradigm, however, a platform consists of more than just frameworks and APIs. It also comes prepackaged with a complete, rich data set, and often that data is the platform's most valuable aspect. These new "data platforms" are creating exciting new opportunities for developers, though they are not without their challenges.' Chief among these issues are privacy and security, as evidenced by a recent letter to Google from government regulators and activist tools such as PleaseRobMe. But for developers, the challenges also include livelihood. 'Even more than mobile platforms such as Apple's iPhone, a data platform like Twitter's is a walled garden. If Twitter cuts off a developer's access to its data sources for any reason, that developer's business is sunk.' Even those who develop 'cloud middleware' around such data platforms stand to gain little from their efforts, as doing so pits them in competition with their data platform vendors, which are in a far better position to reach potential customers."