Twitter Gets Its Own Photosharing Service, Others Must Innovate

Twitter has been rolling out small updates to its service for the past week, but these updates have been mediocre at best – no fancy bells or whistles, just simple features. But all that is about to change as Twitter announced on their blog today that it will begin slowly rolling out its very own photosharing service (which still doesn’t have a name…) within the next several weeks. But what does that mean for the guys already in the photosharing business?

Twitter’s New Service


Twitter has undoubtedly been busy recently. They’ve introduced a Follow Button (similar to the Tweet Button) that website owners can place on their pages for visitors to click and easily follow them on Twitter. Then there’s been the few small changes they’re making like the ability to see other users’ timelines.

But today they went for the kill and announced their partnership photosharing service with Photobucket. Twitter hasn’t made it clear to what degree Photobucket will be involved. All we know is that Photobucket will be “hosting these photos behind the scenes” according to Twitter’s blog post. In addition to photo uploads, users will also be able to upload videos. We’re still waiting on a name, but TechCrunch is speculating “Twimg” as a potential player.

What It Means For The Other Guys

For the purpose of this article, I’ll be focusing primarily on TwitPic since it is arguably the most dominant in this business. The first thing that comes to mind when visioning Twitter’s own photosharing service is the demise of TwitPic and other similar services. It’s easy to jump to that conclusion, but before we do we should realize two important things:

  • These sites founded their business by providing a missing service to another service’s users.
  • That is all these sites do.

So what happens when your entire dependent business model is washed down the drain? Innovate. That might sound obvious to you, and I really hope it does to the team at TwitPic for the sake of its existence.

Because let’s face it. Twitpic does two basic things: upload photos and upload videos (the later only came recently). That’s it. And now that Twitter is launching its own service (that does exactly the same thing), TwitPic might be getting the short end of the stick here. It also doesn’t help that Twitter didn’t give TwitPic a “heads up” about their plans to invade the photosharing space either.

Twitter’s new photosharing service will ultimately be the default when it comes to their mobile app (and most likely other Twitter apps such as TweetBot). If you do the math, that’s 46% of Twitter users that choose to use mobile apps rather than Twitter’s web interface according to Twitter in September of last year. That 46% will equal 46% of users who will use Twitter’s own photosharing service rather than TwitPic’s (give or take a small percentage of users who will actually care to change the default service).

Edit: As of May 2011, 54% of Twitter users access the service from a mobile phone. That’s an 8% increase within 8 months. Source: PewInternet.org

So TwitPic must innovate. They must find a way to separate themselves from the default which is Twitter’s service.

Innovation

There’s another service that comes to mind that won’t be affected by this at all: Instagram, the iPhone-only photosharing service that adds great looking filters to photos. Even though Instagram’s business model is quite similar to TwitPic, yFrog, and other services, it does something a little more than just uploading and posting a photo to a Twitter account; it gives users the simple option of beautiful photo manipulation with a single tap. And people love Instagram. They now have over 4.25 million users and host 10 photos uploaded every second. That is innovation.

So what do you think? What sort of suggestions do you have for TwitPic in order to keep their business alive? Would you choose a third-party photosharing service over Twitter’s? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Source: Twitter Blog

Patrick is the founder and editor-in-chief of pinglio. He works as a system administrator and studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He currently lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and two dogs.
  • http://twitter.com/Chrome262 Chrome262

    I am actually surprised by this, because this is something that Twitter should of done early on, when they didn’t i thought they were happy with the many alternatives to fill the gap. waiting this long almost seems mean to me, and to not try to broker a deal with twitpic first is kind of weird as well. Sure photobucket is cool, and well established but they no flickr or twitpics. Another thing to consider is the mass updates we will see with twitter clients when this rolls out, I hope there is an sdk for this. It will be interesting to see what Tweetbot and tweetdeck do, and how they implement this. Maybe twitpic could host for instagram.

  • http://twitter.com/Chrome262 Chrome262

    Still haven’t seen it roll out on my twitter, tweetbot still uses twitpics, the last update makes it easier with to add it on the fly.