The next train from platform 8 will be java.io.exception: http://t.co/7sdZ2o9
— Neil Turner (@nrturner) April 9, 2011
TwitPic announced that it will be closing down on the 25th September. It’s a rather sudden announcement that seems to have come out of nowhere, but relates to ongoing issues between Twitter and TwitPic regarding TwitPic’s application for a trademark. Twitter have objected and threatened to cut off their API access if TwitPic don’t withdraw their trademark application.
Whilst TwitPic are keen to paint Twitter as the bad guys here, the reality is that TwitPic only exists because originally there was no way of including an image in a tweet on Twitter. By choosing a name so similar to the service that its reliant upon, TwitPic have put themselves in a difficult position, and it’s a situation very much of their own making.
To me, the obvious thing to do in this situation would be to consider a name change to something else. Provided that Twitter are happy for them to continue using the twitpic.com domain name, but forward it somewhere else, there shouldn’t be an issue. Going for the nuclear option and shutting down completely just seems baffling to me.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that there are other reasons for this. I linked the tweet above because that was the last time I used a TwitPic image in a tweet – in April 2011. Later that year, to coincide with the release of Apple’s iOS 5, Twitter added its own image hosting service, and since then use of third-party Twitter image services has presumably declined. I think the only reasons why people would carry on using services like TwitPic would be because they used old Twitter clients – unlikely nowadays due to API changes – or because TwitPic and the like allowed animated GIFs when Twitter itself didn’t. And that’s no longer the case.
Alexa seems to agree with the overall traffic trends pointing downwards. So whilst the stated reason is Twitter taking legal action, which would cost too much to defend, I think this masks the real reason – nobody uses TwitPic anymore.
An export feature is promised (although none of my uploaded images seem to be viewable) but unless something changes all of those tweeted images will disappear off the internet by the end of the month. Which will be a shame. It’s not like we can go back an fix the broken URLs in our old tweets.