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Filter wars: 5 leading opinions on Twitter’s bid to take on Instagram

So Twitter’s taking on Instagram. According to a post in the New York Times blog section the social network is set to give people a series of photographic filters much like Instagram.

The goal, it seems, is to get people to bypass Instagram entirely much like it has with a number of third-party apps. Indeed you haven’t been able to find your Twitter contacts on Instagram for some time now.

But is it a good idea? We canvassed the web to find out what some of tech’s leading voices think of the move.

1. Nick Bilton — NY Times Blog
Aside from breaking the story, Bilton also commented on the development, saying that “Twitter is finally learning a lesson from Facebook: If you can’t buy it, build it”.

The move, he says, is a recognition by Twitter that the ability to quickly share photos from smartphones is solid gold. It means that people will now be on Twitter itself when they take and share their photos. This is likely to add to add to Twitter’s popularity “among advertisers who want to reach people on smartphones, where the company’s audience tends to flock”.

2. Jon Mitchell — ReadWrite
Mitchell takes a contrary view, “a waste of Twitter’s energy” and “yet another sad sign of Twitter walling itself off instead of collaborating”.

The ReadWrite writer reckons that Twitter would’ve been much better off trying to make itself the world’s best Instagram client:

You could tweet a picture with a particular hashtag and push it to Instagram. Pictures shared from Instagram would be accessible and shareable everywhere, not just on smartphones, and favoriting or replying to an Instagram tweet would automatically push the Like and comment to Instagram. If Twitter was that good of an Instagram app, the competition would push Instagram to be even better, and we’d all gain from it.

Instead Mitchell reckons that Twitter’s offering will be inferior and add to an “increasingly bizarre interface that wants to be all things to all people”. In other words, it’ll be totally lame.

3. Drew Olanoff — TechCrunch
TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff meanwhile reckons that adding photo filters to Twitter “makes complete sense”.

“It will keep people on the service longer, like its Discovery and Search products do,” he says. Olanoff cautions however that it probably won’t get Instagram users to switch sides. This is down to the fact that most Instagram users already push their photos to the service. “There’s really no need to duplicate your efforts unless Twitter comes up with something really amazing,” says Olanoff.

4. Jennifer Van Grove — Venturebeat
Van Grove shares Mitchell’s acerbic attitude toward the move. If Twitter really does add filters, she says, “it speaks to the information network’s naiveté over what’s attracted more than 100 million users to Instagram”.

The reason for Instagram’s popularity, says Van Grove, is because of its immediacy and its paring down of the “bloated social networking experience”. Adding filters won’t bring new people to Twitter for the same reason that a slew of other camera apps haven’t threatened Instagram’s dominance in the space: “Something other than filters draws people to Instagram”.

5. Eric Jackson — Forbes
By way of contrast, Forbes’ Eric Jackson reckons that Twitter is “absolutely right” to launch an Instagram competitor.

Aside from the filters, he says, the biggest part of Instagram’s success is the ability share your photos with friends. That comes in the shape of being able to share your Twitter photos on Facebook.

The one thing missing is an independent place to scroll through all those photos. Instagram built something incredible, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be copied and beaten. According to Jackson: “Twitter is incredibly smart to systematically copy Instagram and rip out the foundation of value from that company and from Facebook over time.”

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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