Twitter’s move is clearly a substitute for the features Instagram is offering to the popular social networking site. Instagram was acquired by rival Facebook Inc sometime this year for about $715 million.
The introduction of the new product has not stirred ripples across millions of users as it does not significantly affect their overall experience. However, it is seen as a symbolic move in the heightening tension in the relationship between Twitter and Facebook in the social networking sphere.
Twitter’s announcement of its new photo service followed Instagram’s unexpected announcement that it would no longer let Twitter post Instagram’s photos in messages within Twitter. CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom said that the main reason was to allow users to use Instagram’s website.
Systrom did not tell Reuters last week what was the plan behind the move or how he could monetize Instagram’s service, although analysts think that the photo sharing site can become a significant revenue stream for Facebook should it decides to tap its rich advertising potential.
For its part, Twitter revealed that its new product is powered by Aviary, the firm based in New York that also develops the image-editing program fro photo-sharing sites like Flickr and others.
Following the integration of photo sharing in social networking sites, the new feature proved to be immensely popular among users although the same cannot be said for video sharing.
The massive popularity of photo sharing, according to an early investor of Twitter Bijan Sabet, was demonstrated during election night in November, when a picture of President-elect Obama and his wife Michelle hugging after victory had been proclaimed, set a new record as the most widely re-tweeted image of all time.
“From ordinary life to these special moments with artists, celebrities, or politicians, photos have always been this special thing for Twitter,” Sabet said. He is a partner at Stark Capital, a Boston-based venture capital company that also holds a stake in Aviary.
The importance of photo sharing services like Instagram was shown earlier during the year when Zuckerberg shocked Silicon Valley by announcing that Facebook would buy the photo sharing site for about $1 billion.
“Providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together,” he said in a prepared statement in a Facebook post giving the reason for the purchase.
The new Twitter photo effects will be available on Monday as an update to the Twitter’s iPhone and android applications.