They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, as of this week it is now worth 140 characters. Since its inception Twitter’s lack of an internal photo-sharing function has been bugging users. Until yesterday if someone wanted to Tweet a photo they had to go through a third-party site like Twitpic or yfrog.
Recently, Twitter has begun integrating services offered by other sites into its system and this seems like an extension of that initiative. Last spring Twitter purchased Tweetie (a Twitter app for mobile platforms) and effectively eliminated all mobile app competition. TweetDeck was a similar situation. And now they have teamed up with Photobucket. These three moves by Twitter have each spurred a wave of outrage from developers at third-party sites. These developers claim that Twitter has not given them notice of its plans to integrate these services into its site and that this is unfair. My question is, why would Twitter not integrate these services in the first place?
Twitter users seem to be relying on a variety of third party sites for a variety of functions that, in my opinion, should have been anticipated and integrated by Twitter in house. I can’t think (at least off hand) of any company that has so blatantly ignored the needs of its users and allowed them to resort to third-party companies. It seems like photo-sharing is a feature that should have been integrated into Twitter from the beginning as it is very obvious that people would want to share photos with their followers just like they can on Facebook.
Let’s actually take a look at Facebook for a minute. While it is far from perfect Facebook still serves as a fair example of anticipating or at least meeting user needs. Facebook has always had a photo-sharing feature (at least that I can remember) because it anticipated that users would want to share pictures of their experiences with their friends. Now, Facebook didn’t always allow people to be tagged in textual posts (like statuses or wall postings) but it integrated this into its system with the popular @feature. This feature had bugs from the beginning but Facebook at least always seemed like it was attempting to address them.
Twitter has never seemed willing to address any issues with its services instead leaving it to outside companies to solve them. This disregard for ease of use is the kind of thing that can cripple companies. In fact, it is one of the reasons why I refuse to use Twitter because it just seems flawed. But I suppose as long as its list of users continues to grow exponentially the developers at Twitter are willing to let others do their work for them.