Twitter Declares Photo War, Announces Native Image Sharing

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Clap if you like, or just shrug if you don’t care: Twitter’s finally going to let you upload and share photos directly, through its website. The takeaway: No more Yfrog or TwitPic or Twitgoo for you.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told users Wednesday at the D9 conference (wherein a bunch of celebrity tech folk chat with media bigwigs) that his company’s elected to join hands with image hosting service Photobucket to let users upload photos direct to Twitter. The service will work through Twitter’s website as well as the company’s official apps. Expect it to happen over the next few weeks

Sound incidental? It kind of is, except where it’s not.

We don’t care, right? As long as it’s simple, quick, scalable and stable. But TechCrunch views the announcement as a declaration of war against intermediaries like TwitPic and yFrog. That’s the obvious read. The not-so-obvious one would be the part where the new service is rumored to include a pithy one-size-fits-all link (possibly twimg.com, which Twitter already uses internally) and may pop small thumbnails of each image into your Twitter stream. Uniformity with a dash of razzle-dazzle, in other words.

Did I say “war”? Try “war by other means.” TechCrunch’s sources claim Twitter reached out to the major third party image guys in January. It’s unclear what went down, but speculation is third parties could rebrand, somehow, possibly even with Twitter’s assistance.

Twitter’s goal here is obviously control, but not just for control’s sake, or to knock off third parties getting fat off ad revenue. The company’s working with 140 characters—a tiny, easily cluttered space. Every letter and punctuation point counts. Dictating precisely how image links appear allows the company to normalize its aesthetic, as well as predict how future alterations to the format will appear.

That said, Twitter’s not cutting third parties out entirely. A Twitter rep, writing to Mashable, said “We’re still supporting other third-party photo services in our mobile and desktop clients, so users can choose the one that works best for them.”

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