Yesterday, we first reported that Twitter was on the verge of launching their own photo-sharing service. That report has since been confirmed by Liz Gannes, who happens to work for All Things D, which is hosting a conference where Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was planning to announce this news. So, yeah. “Sources familiar with the matter.” Confirmed.
And now we know a bit more.
First of all, this move is a direct assault on services like TwitPic and yFrog. With Twitter Pictures, you’ll be able to upload from Twitter.com and the clients and you’ll get a nice, tidy URL that links to your picture (and a small thumbnail may now appear in your stream). We’ve heard that this might use the twimg.com URL that Twitter has used internally for a long time, but that’s not certain yet.
And while it’s a direct assault on longstanding ecosystem players, we’ve also heard that Twitter did the right thing and reached out to these guys quite a long time ago. Specifically, we’ve heard that in January, Twitter sat down with a few of the major players to let them know their intentions to move into the space. Presumably, those guys will move into more white-label offerings now (maybe even with Twitter’s help in some way), rather than die off.
So why is Twitter doing this? After all, the service is famous for having difficulties staying up as they scale — why get into the image business? Well, for one thing they may be using Amazon S3 to host the files rather then do it on their own servers. But more importantly, this is another move by Twitter to be more fully in control of their product. Some may point to the revenue that yFrog and others pull in from ads as playing into this, but that money is likely negligible to Twitter. It’s about owning the product.
And they may have a very good reason for doing that right now.
We’ve heard from multiple sources that Twitter is likely to have a big-time partner for such a service: Apple. Specifically, we’re hearing that Apple’s new iOS 5 will come with an option to share images to Twitter baked into the OS. This would be similar to the way you can currently share videos on YouTube with one click in iOS. Obviously, a user would have to enable this feature by logging in with their Twitter credentials in iOS. There would then be a “Send to Twitter” option for pictures stored on your device.
Apple announced today that they plan to show off iOS 5 for the first time at WWDC next week, confirming a report of ours from March. Now you see why Twitter would want to get this picture service out there ASAP. And why they’d want their own service.
No word on other photo players — namely Facebook and Flickr — also being baked into iOS 5. But Apple does have deals with both of those companies for iPhoto, so it would make some sense.
More to come, I’m sure.