TwitPic Hits 1 Million Users, Brick Wall

Sharing photographs and other images on Twitter is a fairly natural and thus wildly popular extension of the micro-sharing service’s main reason for being. We’ve earlier noticed how TwitPic seems to have emerged as the leader of the pack. Its growth rate is practically up to par with the increase in visitors and users Twitter itself is seeing the past couple of months. Traffic to has spiked to about 2.3 million unique visitors per month according to Compete stats (which, based on experience, means it probably receives a good deal more) and last night the TwitPic account boasted about having signed up its 1 millionth user.

The downside of TwitPic is that it’s becoming quite a burden for just one guy (Noah Everett) to operate. Remarkably, he has done a good job of keeping the service up most of the time, but today the service is experiencing some major hiccups. While the website is still reachable, it’s no longer possible to log in with your account and all direct links to uploaded photographs have gone dead, with a message saying that the picture in question does not exist anymore (ironically, it suggest other photos under that message, but also with dead links).

Update: fixed now (around 7:30 AM)

Naturally, users are up in arms about the downtime and the possibility that their pics may be lost. Mostly, they are confused about the message, and I guess it would actually be better for TwitPic if it were simply down completely, like it was last January (for nearly 24 hours).

The Twitter account and blog of TwitPic remain silent over the issue so far (update: now citing ‘database issues’) and (once again ironically) the latest blog post – dated April 6 – mentions a move to a new data center, which supposedly upped the performance:

First off, the data center move was completed last week and things are running much smoother now. The move is now allowing us to scale easier as Twitpic grows and boy are we growing at an astounding rate. Thank you so much for your patience with us these last few months as we’ve learned to handle Twitpic’s growth.

If TwitPic can’t keep up with the current growth, someone will sooner or later step up to the plate and challenge its dominance on the Twitter photo sharing playing field. Unless Everett comes up with a way to stabilize the experience, users might run to alternatives like Pixim and TweetPhoto, two web services we covered earlier.

In fact, I think sooner or later someone should provide the small company with some seed funding, or acquire it outright.