Is the #Twitpocalypse overhyped?

Initially heard through Programmable Web: The Twitpocalypse is Near: Will Your Twitter Client Survive?, twitter is rapidly approaching the maximum for a 32-bit signed int. You can view the countdown here.

This got a also mention at GigaOM: Today, We Think Think Twitter is Dead (for now). While the Twitpocalypse was not the primary topic of the post, it made use of it as a supporting argument:

there is a bug in the Twitter system that would be like Y2K. Apparently each tweet is identified by an integer value and the maximum signed 32-bit integer value for most database applications is 2,147,483,648. And since Twitter is getting so popular, we are inching close to that number.

The implication of the mention here is that Twitter itself will come crashing down. It shouldn't, although many clients might have issues: those written in C (anyone?), those using the default INT in MySQL (which is 32-bit, unsigned) or SQL Server (even 2008).

Interestingly enough, SQLite would only have a problem for INTEGER PRIMARY KEY (32-bit signed int), which could be a problem for TweetDeck, although it doesn't look like status IDs are stored as INTEGER PRIMARY KEY (apparently, it's the only fixed type in SQLite).

Apparently each tweet is identified by an integer value and the maximum signed 32-bit integer value for most database applications is 2,147,483,648.

Also, because I had way too much computer science in college, some technicalities (both articles above made this error):

  • The correct range is [-2147483648,2147483647]. The representation for 2,147,483,648 (0x80000000) would actually be understood as -2147483648 (two's complement).
  • The range for signed 32-bit integer values doesn't change.

Update: Mashable has mentioned that Twitterific, Tweetdeck, Destroy Twitter, and possible Tweetie have experienced issues. It also looks like Tweets are down to 133 per second.