If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. At least, that appears to be the motto that Twitter's sticking to with the rumors that the company's planning to add photo filters to its mobile applications. In other words, you'll soon be able to take all kinds of "hipster" pics with your Twitter app on your phone, mimicking the service already provided by competing photo-snapping app Instagram.
If the move sounds like a big deal over nothing, you're wrong there. Twitter, at one point, was actually considering making an acquisition to pick up a photo service of its own – a move hastened by Facebook's acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion in cash in stock. (At least, $1 billion when first announced by Facebook; Facebook's stock took a bit of a dive and ended up shooting the total cost of the deal down to $715 million).
According to the New York Times' Nick Bilton, Twitter ultimately decided that the various photo services it was eyeing cost too much for what they offered, and that the company could just go ahead and build out its own photo capabilities itself. Hence the rumored – but not-yet-official – news that said Instagram-like photo filters are going to be on their way within the next few months.
However, Twitter's alleged decision has not been met with much joy from press and pundits. The Next Web's Jon Mitchell argues that Twitter's better off developing new ways to work withInstagram instead of trying to further isolate its service from the Web's other social networks – Twitter had already cut off Instagram users' ability to find each other on the service (if they're Twitter friends) in July of this year.
"Instagram works like Twitter, but it's visual instead of textual. People love it. They share their view of the world there, and like-minded people find their visions and appreciate them. Twitter's getting jealous, and now it wants to replace Instagram," Mitchell writes.
"But it will do so with inferior apps and an increasingly bizarre interface that wants to be all things to all people. With none of the intimacy of Instagram, Twitter's copycat effort can't help but be lame in comparison."
According to TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff, Twitter's move is hardly going to get the Instagram stalwarts to jump ship. Especially since they're already hooked into the photo-sharing community within Instagram itself and can use their Instagram apps to publish their shots to Twitter anyway.
But for some, like Forbes' Eric Jackson, Twitter's move to introduce filters into its photos is a perfect business move, if anything.
"Twitter is incredibly smart to systematically copy Instagram and rip out the foundation of value from that company and from Facebook over time," Jackson wrote. "There's no love loss between these companies – despite [Twitter CEO Dick Costolo] dropping in to chat with Zuckerberg this week. Peter Thiel said you could throw a bomb into Twitter headquarters at 6pm and no one would get hurt because they'd all gone home for the day. Zuckerberg took a shot at Twitter on the last earnings call by saying that Instagram had passed it in terms of mobile popularity."
"So, good for Twitter. Better photo sharing is what their users like me want and they'll use it if it's just as good as Instagram," he adds.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc