Developers making use of Twitter’s API must be starting to get worried about their longevity at this point as Twitter is expected to announce the launch of their own photo sharing service at this week’s D9 Conference.
A good part of Twitter’s popularity was built by the independent companies and developers making use of their API and using the service in ways it was never originally designed. Twitter was originally just a simple way of sending 140 characters of text via twitter.com or via text or follow others doing the same. It was independent clients such as Tweetie and Tweetdeck which turned that simple service into a more immersive experience with better interfaces and workflows making use of other 3rd party services such as Bit.ly for shortening and tracking links and Twitpic for sharing photographs.
Last year, in an effort to consolidate their services and increase revenues, Twitter purchased Tweetie, the leading Twitter iPhone app, and turned it into Twitter for iPhone, stating that developers should not compete with Twitter on core services making some developers nervous about their futures. More recently Twitter purchased Tweetdeck, the leading Twitter desktop client, making true on its promise of consolidating around the client space to the detriment of competitors such as Uber Media.
Now, however, it appears that Twitter will be competing against a further set of those making use of their API with a move into photo-sharing possibly under the name TWimg or more simply Twitter Images. Currently there are a number of options for Twitter users wanting to share images with TwitPic, yFrog, Instagram and Flickr amongst the leaders, but if Twitter removes support for them on Twitter.com, Tweetdeck and its mobile Twitter apps then their viability will rapidly decline. Whereas Bit.ly has remained popular after being replaced on Twitter’s homegrown apps and services with websites and companies enjoying the stats and branding offered, Photo-sharing services currently have few value-added services with which to differentiate themselves and maintain popularity.