Twitter Launches Photo Sharing Service

By Lauren Sleeper A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  In Twitterland, those pictures certainly do come in handy then with only a 140 character limit.  Sharing multimedia - photos and videos - on Twitter is not groundbreaking in and of itself.  When Twitter first launched, third party services such as yfrog and twitpic quickly recognized the demand and offered their services as a means to share via Twitter.  More recently, mobile photo sharing apps like instagram and color have seen huge jumps in popularity, and have really brought the social sharing of photos to the next level.  There clearly is no shortage of methods to share photos on the network, but Twitter has not offered a native photo sharing service--until now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmB15ER3LUQ&feature=player_embedded

Yesterday, Twitter announced the first ever native photo sharing on Twitter.com.  During the course of the next few weeks, Twitter will unveil their new service which will allow you share a photo in-line via a tweet, right from Twitter.com.  The photo will be displayed as a link and ultimately be hosted on their server, allowing for the first time ever photo sharing without the use of an additional client.  Twitter also reported that the service will eventually roll out to their official mobile applications as well. For the non-smart phone owners of the world, Twitter is also working with mobile carriers to allow photo sharing through MMS.  While Twitter did partner with Photobucket to power this service, their claim is still that the user will retain all rights to the photos shared using this method.

Not only will the photo sharing process change, Twitter has also revamped some of the search and display functions of their site. To allow for quick and easy browsing, top images and videos will be displayed directly on Twitter.com. Twitter also reports that now search will return even more relevant tweets, along with related photos and videos.  Imagine there is a history-changing event -- sports championship game, presidential election, or natural disaster -- you will be able to use one hashtag to not only absorb what people are saying, but also seeing, through their uploaded photos.

While many may jump to point out the obvious similarity - is Twitter trying to be the "new Facebook" - Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, says "No. Twitter photos are shared in a moment and conversed upon, by lots of people, as it happens, in real time. Facebook is more of an archive of past moments... We’re not going to have an archive of every one of your photos." Instead of uploading photos to capture and relive memories, Twitter photos are a means of crowd-sourced reporting, whether it's your personal life you are reporting on or something larger in the public sphere.

There are still a few questions that seem to have gone unanswered up to this point: Will there be tagging?  Will the links count towards the 140 character limit? Are there plans for integration at the iOS level (note all the Apple products in the video)?

What do you think the biggest implications of native photo sharing are?  Will the availability of in-line photos effect how you use other photo sharing services and apps? Share in the comments below!