Who’s winning in Twitter photos? Hint: Not Yfrog or Lockerz

When Twitter debuted its native photo-sharing feature earlier this year, some people worried that it would harm the existing ecosystem of third-party photo-sharing apps. Sites such as Yfrog and Lockerz were built to let people share photos on Twitter well before the microblogging site decided to offer the capability itself. What would happen to those businesses now?
Turns out, those concerns were pretty well justified. New data out of Skylines, a Dutch real-time photo search startup that analyzes the Twitter feed, indicates that most third-party photo sharing services are seeing major shrinkage in terms of market share.

Skylines December 2011 Twitter photo analysis (click to enlarge)

Twitter now powers nearly half of all the photos shared on the micro-blogging site, according to Skylines’ analysis. And over the course of December alone, the company increased its market share by 18 percent, growing from 38 percent of all photos shared in early December to 45 percent in late December.
Meanwhile, the biggest loser of market share in December was Twitpic, which fell from 23 percent to 16 percent market share over the course of the month. That may be because Twitter’s brand new user interface, which began rolling out in early December, has its own service set as the default photo sharing app — a designation that formerly belonged to Twitpic.
But there is one third-party Twitter photo app that is growing right now: Instagram. The hip iPhone photo-sharing app now is responsible for 16 percent of the photos shared on Twitter, up from 13 percent in early December. And at the moment, Instagram’s growth is not showing any signs of slowing down. As Om Malik reported Thursday, Instagram saw a big “bump” in users over Christmas, after being named Apple’s iPhone(s AAPL) app of the year and newly gifted iPhones were being activated.
It bears mention, though, that Instagram is not as closely tied to Twitter as these other services are — as of this past summer, only 11 percent of Instagram members were using Twitter. Instagram is built as a mobile social hub in itself, which is something that’s surely contributing to its current strength. It’s a good reminder that building an app with standalone independence in mind from day one is always a good thing to do.