Photo-sharing on Twitter has become big business, with popular sites such as Twitpic and Yfrog generating millions of visits and advertising impressions on a daily basis.
Now, in a move that will once again send a warning shot across the bows of would-be developers, Twitter is poised to launch its own photo-sharing service – and the announcement could come as early as tomorrow.
The story was broken by TechCrunch late last night, and sources at AllThingsD have confirmed the news, clarifying that Twitter is expected to reveal details about the venture at AllThingsD’s D9 conference this Wednesday, where Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is set to speak.
Earlier this month many Twitpic users reacted with confusion and hostility when a controversial change in the company’s terms of service led many to believe that their photos were going to be exploited for financial gain. Indeed, Twitpic, which is fully independent from Twitter – and thus already dancing on very thin ice by their choice of business name – have signed a deal with news agency WENN, granting the latter exclusive rights to images, notably those posted by celebrities.
Twitpic have attempted to clarify the issue, reminding users that they retain all copyrights to their photos and videos, but it remains a hazy relationship. And a number of influencers have already made public proclamations about leaving Twitpic. Like it or not, where celebrities start, others follow, and an official Twitter image-sharing solution will inevitably get the green light from the network’s growing army of new users. Veterans will resist at first, but Twitpic certainly haven’t done themselves any favours with the timing of their TOS adjustments. Quite possibly this has expedited Twitter’s announcement.
TechCrunch speculates that the Twitter-owned twimg.com domain could be used as both a platform and URL shortener for this product. Likely Twitter will mirror the revenue models of its competitors by showing ads alongside user photos. And unless they introduce a profit share, you can all but guarantee that they won’t be selling those images on to third parties.
Earlier this year, Twitter’s platform lead Ryan Server warned new developers to refrain from building “client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience”. It would seem old hands need to be careful, too, especially if Twitpic, which was formed in 2008 and is one of most well-known independent Twitter services, is muscled out of the picture.