Micro-blogging site Twitter is planning to launch a built-in photo sharing feature which will put the future of twitter apps like Twitpics and Yfrogs in limbo and will place its third-party developers in a quandary as to which apps to write for Twitter.
TechCrunch reported that Twitter is due to launch its photo sharing service soon. AllThingsD confirmed the report and stated that Twitter will launch the purported service at its D9 conference on Wednesday.
Twitter users presently have the option of hosting their photos on other sites like Flickr, Twitpics and Yfrogs and then add the links to tweets for photo sharing.
Twitter has been tightening the rules for third-party developers by providing strict guidelines to curb developers from replicating the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.
TechCrunch in March quoted Twitter Platform lead Ryan Sarver as stating: Developers have told us that they'd like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter. More specifically, developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.
Adding photo-sharing feature to Twitter is a sure sign that the social network is taking away key areas from the twitter ecosystem which were earlier nurtured by third-party developers.
Recently, Twitter spent $40 million to acquire Tweetdeck - an application which allows users to collate information from social media sites in real-time and categorizes them to view it in a single window; it acts like dashboard for real-time information.
Wired reported in March that Twitter Platform lead Sarver said that users are moving towards official apps. He added numbers stating: the number and market share of consumer client apps that are not owned or operated by Twitter has been shrinking. According to our data, 90 percent of active Twitter users use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis.
TweetDeck was one of the major third-party clients which was ultimately swallowed by Twitter. With photo sharing plans, developers now have to look to other areas for developing apps for Twitter ecosystem. TechCrunch highlighted some verdant areas like publisher tools, curation, real-time data signals, CRM and value-added content which developers can target.
Twitter is alienating the third-party developers who have been responsible for filling the gaps in Twitter service. The developer community is offended that Twitter is not acknowledging the role they have played in the evolution of Twitter.
Arstechnica quoted Steve Streza, developer of Swearch and Todolicious as stating: Twitter continues to make hostile and aggressive moves to alienate the third-party developers who helped make it the platform it is now. Today it's third party Twitter clients. Tomorrow it'll be URL shorteners and image/video hosts. Next it'll be analytics and ads and who knows what else.
With the future of Twitpics and Yfrogs in jeopardy the possible launch of photo-sharing on Twitter highlights the fissures in the API-based business model in which the developers are at the mercy of the platform provider. Currently, in a bid to develop the ecosystem around a platform, companies expose APIs to developers. Thus, they gain mindshare and are able to realize the potential of the platform which if pursued in-house would require significant capital outlay.
But, in the case of Twitter, the company ends up acquiring the developer funded services which are successful and then bars other developers from replicating similar apps.
While Twitter's photo-sharing move is a logical step, the success of the service will largely depend on the privacy and trust parameters which Twitter will weave into the service to gain user confidence.