Officially, Twitter doesn’t do video, relying instead on third-party services. That may soon change, according to Mike Isaac of AllThingsD, who reports that Twitter has just bought Vine, a tiny video-sharing startup.Today, if you want to tweet a video to your followers, you can post it on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitvid, or similar sites. Those videos will play on Twitter’s website without requiring an extra click.
So it’s not clear what Twitter will gain from taking on the cost and complexity of running its own video-hosting, except for a greater level of control.
Twitter has made several moves to take back control of features it previously let third-party developers run for it. One notable example: photo hosting. Twitter used to rely on companies like Twitpic and Yfrog to host users’ pictures, tweeting links to their sites, but it now runs its own photo-hosting service through a partnership with Photobucket.
Earlier this year, Twitter acquired Posterous, a blogging service which included a video-hosting feature. But it hasn’t done much with Posterous since the acquisition, and the Posterous team has gone on to work on other products for Twitter.
For that matter, Photobucket already does video as well as photos, so Twitter could simply extend its partnership.
Here’s why adding video isn’t a simple matter: People increasingly use Twitter on mobile devices. Capturing video, compressing the file, and sending it over wireless networks are much more demanding than just uploading a photo.
Vine, which never launched to the public, specialised in uploading very short clips. So perhaps Twitter is trying to find the video equivalent of its 140-character messages—short bursts of broadcasts that don’t clog wireless networks or mobile users’ attention spans.
Twitter declined to comment on its acquisition of Vine.
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