Early Hints On Twitter’s Own Photo Sharing Service, And What It Means To The Devs

For the past couple of days, we have been hearing rumors that Twitter just might launch their own photo sharing service. The earlier week, Twitter acquired TweetDeck and now comes a direct assault on the second flank of Twitpic’s and Yfrog’s.

While Twitter is yet to reveal the whereabouts of it’s own photo sharing service, we have an early hint. Here is how the URL of photo uploads might look like:

twitter-photo-sharing-url

Interesting, you say? And that’s a pretty long URL, we were expecting something short like the one used in the Tweet button.

The above Twitter account has only 8 tweets till now and all of them have the URL of a photo uploaded on a subdomain of Twimg.com. The main domain returns a timeout error while the subdomains itself return Access denied. One Twitter user spotted the above suspicious test account and the test photo uploadsa few hours ago.

Who owns Twimg.com? Of course, it’s Twitter and the domain was registered on 23rd September,2009. Here is the Whoisdata for Twimg.com, if you are curious.

twimg-whois

A reverse IP check shows a couple of websites hosted on the same web server where Twitter.com is (including twttr.com). In this case, Twimg.com is not shown but another site called uniquephoto.com is, which is unlikely to be twitter’s new photo sharing service.

reverse-ip-domain-check

Coming back to business, Twitter launching it’s own photo sharing service makes perfect sense. Third party sites like Twitpic generate a lot of revenue from Google Adsense and banner advertisements and Twitter wants to go the commercial way. Months ago, Twitter told developers to stop building apps and clients and take extra care that your app is not violating privacy policy or providing an inconsistent user experience.

What This Means To Developers

Twitter has a lot of gaps and holes. And this is where the third party devs created a healthy ecosystem.

Twitter never had any built in support for photos, videos, media and long conversations. Twitter’s own short URL came after ages when there were already dozens of URL shortening services fully operational and firmly grounded. No desktop client for three years !

Just think, if they kill or ban every other third party app out there, how frustrating the entire Twitter experience can get. You can’t shorten link, share photos or videos and have to manually tweet your location, post your blog articles…the list is endless.

Thank god that we have third party services like TweetDeck, Bit.ly, TwitPic users found new ways to engage with the system. And suddenly, you’re replacing them with your own stopgap army.

Well, these are the apps which contributed to Twitter’s popularity to some level. As far as I can remember, it was Tweetmeme who revolutionized the concept of Retweet button. What Twitter did is just take that idea, build it’s own copy and hijacked the web with it’s own Tweet button.

Next major expansion was the desktop client TweetDeck. This time, they realized that it would be better to just acquire them instead of building a copy. So they did.

Just because you see that this new kid is getting popular and well accepted, either you kill it or acquire it. You’re passing a message to the devs Hey, if you’re creative and build something cool, either you will be killed or acquired.

To the developers: Don’t build a business around someone else’s, it could mean disaster.

Nonetheless, the following image seems to be the first photo which was uploaded on Twitter’s own photo sharing service.

twitter-photo-sharing-first-photo

And it’s damn funny!

Twitter Launches the Follow Button

After the Tweet button, Twitter has launched yet another button for users who have blogs or websites – the Twitter Follow button. Until now, the only way to follow someone on Twitter is to visit their Twitter profile and click on Follow.

But now, you can just add a Follow button which is linked directly to your Twitter account, so that your visitors can follow your Twitter account directly, with just one click.

Once you click on the Follow button on any website, you get a small popup with a preview of the user account.

It’s a very simple, yet interesting concept which enables website owners to connect with their audience on Twitter much more easily.

You can create your own Follow button here:

Twitter Follow Button

Here’s the follow button for Techie-Buzz:


Twitter Follow Button

Twitter Acquires TweetDeck for $40 Million

TweetDeckIt makes perfect sense.

The most popular and widely growing micro-blogging site acquiring the most popular desktop client for Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, LinkedIn and MySpace. The deal was closed at $40 Million which is somewhat lesser than the expected amount of $50 Million as reported earlier. Though Twitter has denied to comment whether they have actually acquired TweetDeck, multiple sources confirm the acquisition.

Back in February, there were some rumors that UberMedia might acquire TweetDeck. The rumors fell like a deck of cards when Twitter blocked UberMedia’s application fearing that UberMedia might rival Twitter in the long run by creating their own social micro blogging site. It turns out that UberMedia’s deal was cut out during mid April which opened doors for TweetDeck to respond to the offer made by Twitter.

With the rising popularity of TweetDeck across multiple platforms, it was long coming.

You build a startup, it takes a different turn than what it was intended for. Fair enough, then you allow third party developers to build apps around your service so that more users can engage from a variety of sources e.g Android, desktop, iOS and so on.

Then comes the real boom.

Suddenly, you have the feeling that these third party apps are getting more popular than your actual product and less people are actually knocking your door and converting to business.

When it comes to monetization, Twitter has been a slow learner. In fact, this is the only widespread Internet company which has not implemented bold monetization methods so far. There are promoted tweets, promoted users which is the only way for Twitter to earn revenue, but they are not obtrusive. Twitter wants to play clean and maintain a good user experience, but here is a small catch.

If you want your real shop to be the center of attraction, you have to limit the outlets. Sure outlets spread your branding, get the word about your business and brings more goodwill but if their own roots become parallel to yours, you have to do something about it. Which may be one of the reason why Twitter changed their API Tos and limited the ever expanding growth of third party Twitter Apps.

Now talking of apps, the dark horse might be the TweetDeck app for Chrome. Acer and Samsung are launching Chromebooks from June 15th, remember?

access-credentials-changed

Though Twitter has denied to comment on the  rumors of acquiring TweetDeck  but someone did revoked my access token for TweetDeck this morning.

Twitter Powered Hedge Fund Raises £25 Million

Reports that a London based investment firm was planning to launch a hedge fund whose investment strategies would be driven by tweets on Twitter first surfaced in December 2010, after a computer scientist from Indiana Bloomington published his research that proved that by analysing tweets, one could roughly predict stock market movements.

Well, that Twitter powered hedge fund, launched by Derwent Capital Markets, just raised £25 million from investors and will begin trading soon. It is the first social media based hedge fund which will use “sentiment derived from real-time social media data analysis”.

The ‘Twitter fund‘ will manage a portfolio of equities and indices with the aim of achieving consistent absolute returns for investors. The fund manager hopes that the data generated will be an invaluable insight into the fear and greedaspect within the financial markets. It will focus on the FTSE100, Dow Jones and S&P500 using algorithmic trading systems coupled with sentiment analysis.

This is just the first of many, a couple of new hedge funds have already been announced, which will use similar sentiment and emotion analysis techniques derived from social media feeds. Historical analysis has shown that sentiment analysis of tweets has been quite accurate in predicting the movement of the broader market indices.

So what’s next? Hedge funds which invest based on Facebook updates? Or funds which predict the movement of a stock based on the company’s attrition rate derived from LinkedIn data? Or one which predicts agri-commodity prices based on how often you tend to your crops on Farmville? :P

Blogger Goes Down While Rolling Out New Design

Google’s blogging service Blogger is down since yesterday. Blogger announced on its Twitter account that it is going under “scheduled maintenance” but later said that it was “sorting out a few issues”. Google had planned to roll-out a redesign for Blogger but looks like things have gone awry.

Blogger later announced on Twitter that they will not be rolling out the new UI and will continue with its maintenance.

Blogger Twitter Status

The Blogger Team issued a report stating,

We are very sorry that users are unable to publish to Blogger right now. We have rolled back the maintenance release from last night and as a result, posts and comments from all users made after 7:37 am PDT on May 11, 2011 have been removed. Again, we apologize that this happened and our engineers are working hard to return Blogger to normal and restore your posts and comments. We will post a report once this work is complete.

-The Blogger Team

The status blog states that Blogger will be in read-only mode while the team resolves some issues. The team hasn’t explained what the actual cause is.

UPDATE: The Blogger Team says – “To get Blogger back to normal, all posts since 7:37am PDT on Weds, 5/11 have been temporarily removed. We expect everything to be back to normal soon. Sorry for the delay.”

Microsoft Engineers Set WP7 App Coding Benchmarks Pretty High

Windows Phone 7 right now has close to 16,200 applications in the marketplace. According to mobile apps watcher Distimo, at the current growth rate, the WP7 marketplace will have more apps than BlackBerry and Nokia’s app stores in less than a year of launch. When WP7 launched, it came with apps that early adotpers would ask for, namely:

  • Foursquare
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

These apps were borderline decent with basic functions. The first version of Facebook did not have Places, Foursquare’s app was not updated to include Foursquare 3.0 features. However, developers within Microsoft who used these services and  realized  that the development platform for WP7 could implement the missing features took matters in their own hands. As a result we have two beautiful apps that leverage WP7 and the service APIs for feature-rich apps.

Rowi (Twitter client):

Developed by @HumanCompiler and @heskew, Rowi has a paid and free version. The free version is better than the official WP7 twitter app, it has ads though. The paid version ($2.99) includes  push notifications, linked images in tweet and live tile  notifications.

The subtle features in the app are what I love the most. If your WP7 has the dark theme, the starting animation for the app fades into black from white or vice versa if the phone’s theme is white. The app uses the accent color for the tile, twitter handles and the nice upward pointing arrow to show availability of new tweets.

Earlier this week Rowi and the MetroTwit team announced that they will be offering a cloud based sync between the two applications. MetroTwit is a popular Windows PC twitter client that’s designed based on the Metro principles.


(Free)

4th & Mayor (Foursquare client):

A few days back the official Foursquare client for WP7 was removed and users were redirected to @jeffwilcox’s 4th & Mayor. A stamp of validation for the app that it is indeed the best Foursquare client for WP7 as of now. The first run for the application has a gorgeous animation which disappointingly can’t be revisited. The application has all features available in the official Foursquare iPhone application including:

  • Uploading venue photos
  • Explore
  • Specials
  • Commenting on check ins
  • Adding tips

 

The  developers  for both apps have done an amazing job on designing around the Metro theme, showcased the developer tools capabilities and made use of WP7 capabilities. Hoepfully, more developers work on coming up with applications equally good.

PS: Websites for both these applications are well designed as well.

Facebook Now Displays Friend Tagging Suggestions Without @

For quite sometime, has borrowed several features from . One of them has been the @ referral to a friend in a post or in a comment. The name suggestion feature allowed users to tag friends in their updates or in a comment.

facebook

However, it looks like Facebook is now doing away with the @ mentality by showing friend name suggestions while you type. For example, you can now refer to a friend by simply typing their name without the @ sign as seen in the screenshot below.

Facebook Name Suggestions Without @

The new change might be user centric and not available to all users. However, it does add a simple way to refer to friends on Facebook without having to go through that extra step (read adding @).

This though could also be annoying for users because Facebook brings the suggestion up when you type 2-4 characters and if it is part of the name of your friend. However, it disappears as you type further.

Are you seeing this new name suggestions in Facebook? Do you think it is good or bad? Do let me know through your comments.

Update: According to @jatinsapra – Tagging Suggestion without "@" appears when u type first character in Upper case & then when you are done typing first name.

Flock Browser – Official End of Support

flock-icon-250x250The original Kingof social browsers is as good as dead. The Flock web browser will dieon April 26th. Back in January, we told you that Zynga Acquires Flock; May Take Social Gaming To A New Level. As you probably know, Zynga is the social gaming power-house behind Farmville, Mafia Wars and a dozen other popular social games.

What wasn’t expected by many Flock users, was that they’d be abandoned so quickly, without anything to take Flock’s place. I just received my End of Supportletter today. Apparently they made the announcement on April 13th.

Flock said the following it their FAQ:

Flock will no longer be actively maintained, which means you can keep using the product, but key features will stop working after 4/26/11 and over time the browser will no longer be secure as software updates and upgrades will no longer be provided.

Here was one of the immediate responses from the Flock faithful.

David S: This sucks big time! Zynga’s decision to shut down this fabulous browser is an outrage and should be condemned. I have officially boycotted all other Zynga products and encourage others to do so as well. … I curse the day they purchased the property …

Since Zynga has decided to kill the Flock browser, what do they recommend that their users do now? Here’s what they said:

There are many browser choices. We recommend either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

I think most people expected that Zynga/Flock would work on a new browser that is designed to work with social gaming. All bets are off now, but if you still want to use a good social web browser, I’d recommend Rockmelt, which gives you built-in access to Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter may Buy TweetDeck for $50 Million

Back in February, there were some rumors that UberMedia might acquire TweetDeck, the popular client for desktop, , Android and .

TweetDeck Logo

It looks like that acquisition bid failed and put up on the market again. However, they might not stay there for longer though as WSJ is reporting that Twitter is in advanced talks to purchase TweetDeck for around $50 million.

In the recent past, TweetDeck had purchased Tweetie for iPhone to expand their presence on the iPhone and have also released apps for , , and Windows Phone 7.

The acquisition of TweetDeck might give Twitter an advantage in the Windows segment as it is the only platform that they don’t have a dedicated app for. Twitter creates and distributes it’s own Mac app.

Twitter has been receiving a lot of flak recently for it’s recent changes in their API ToS, where it basically asked new developers to stop developing apps for Twitter. This acquisition move might be a part of their recent change in mentality. Acquiring TweetDeck would give them a huge chunk of Windows users which TweetDeck has. It would also make them the largest app for Windows, effectively giving them an advantage over other Windows based Twitter client.

It will be interesting to see how this develops and whether it affects other Twitter app developers or not. Another important thing is that TweetDeck is also working on a web interface which will rival Twitter’s own web interface. So, will Twitter kill it once they acquire TweetDeck? Only time will tell.

If you are a developer take this news with a pinch of salt, after all building a business around Twitter was probably not the wisest decision. I have learnt this the hard way and chronicled my experience in the post; Building A Business Around Someone Else’s Could Mean Disaster, do read it.

About TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a multi-purpose client which allows users to track their Twitter timeline, replies and direct messages along with providing a powerful interface to track brands and websites, and also follow Twitter trends and searches. Along with Twitter, TweetDeck also supports pulling feeds from other popular services such as , MySpace and LinkedIn.

In recent months, TweetDeck has launched a which allowed users to access TweetDeck from within Google Chrome and also a new web interface for TweetDeck aimed at users of modern browsers.

[Rumor] Twitter Turned Down a $10 Billion Buyout Offer from Google Last Fall

Twitter top management has come under some serious scrutiny because of their continuous move downhill. The top management is taking one wrong decision after another that might put Twitter in a miserable position after a few years. It has lost the respect of developers, it is showing clear signs of overload, people are considering working on Twitter alternatives already to sustain their business and according to recent reports, Google offered to buy Twitter last fall, and it refused.

twitter-logo

The buyout offer is only one of the two big news. The other, is that Evan Williams was actually forced to move out of Twitter. Reportedly, Google offered Twitter a whopping $10 billion and it refused that too. I really do not understand why Twitter is so adamant and it is not just about the buyout offer. Is the top management fit to run an organization like Twitter? Are they even aware of what they are running? In spite of being a killer product, Twitter has failed to monetize itself properly so far. When a founder moves out of his product, the product loses much more than a founder. It loses the very face of the organization. Digg is undergoing a similar crisis right now.

When only 10% of the overall Twitter users even tweet regularly and stats are punching Twitter in the gut every day, it is time Twitter does things right. The right thing does not necessarily mean selling out to Google. Not all startups out there are supposed to be acquired by Google.

The right thing means devising a killer monetizing scheme that can bring Twitter out of this misery. The right thing here means earning back all the lost developer-love they once had and the right thing, is to put the right people in charge.