About time: Twitter hatching photo service?

Twitpic and yfrog could be out of a business

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
May 31, 2011
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[Update at 11:05 PT on May 31: AdGrok has confirmed the acquisition of AdGrok.]

Flickr? Instagram? Twitpic? yfrog? Which do you use to embed photos in your tweets?

If the latest rumors are to be believed, you might soon be using something else entirely: Twitter Photos. Sources say Twitter is announcing an official photo sharing service at the D9 conference this week; CEO Dick Costolo takes the stage on Wednesday.

The company has not yet replied to my request for comment.

It’s really about time that Twitter created its own photo service. Though the microblogging site is often considered the younger social networking sibling to Facebook, that social network is years ahead in terms of content sharing. By the end of 2010, Facebook was home to 60 billion photos and users were adding another six billion each month. That means the site is seeing more photo uploads every month than Flickr has in total, and the same is nearly true of both Photobucket and Picasa too.

Unless you’re using one of Twitter’s mobile apps with photo capabilities (the one for iPhone actually lets you choose from several apps) or a third-party application like TweetDeck, which Twitter actually just acquired last week, then there’s no easy way to upload photos to the site. It’s slightly ridiculous that, at, all you can do is publish 140 characters or less (with your location shared, if you like). It’s 2011, and users want rich content.

Though an official Twitter service for photos would likely make it harder for yfrog and others to continue thriving, those third-party developers have known for months the risk of running those businesses. When the company told developers right out to stop making their own clients, it was pretty clear that other product offerings would be endangered.

In related Twitter rumor mill news, there are reports that the company is close to acquiring AdGrok, a Y Combinator-backed startup working on streamlining the bidding process for Google AdWords. The idea is that Twitter could use the advertising intelligence in developing its own ad products, like Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends.

I’ll be following both reports closely and will be on the lookout for official confirmation. I’ll also update this post if the company responds to my request for comment.

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