Mike Isaac

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Twitter Mulls an In-House Video-Hosting Service

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Twitter is considering building its own video-hosting technology, according to sources. That means users could upload video directly via the service’s mobile apps, instead of using hosting services like yFrog, TwitVid and Vodpod.

That potential change would be in line with a number of tweaks the site has made to its applications throughout 2012. Until recently, Twitter also delegated photo hosting to third-party services; Twitter moved that hosting in-house with the most recent app updates.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean Twitter expects users to start using its homegrown solution for the bulk of the videos people share of the service. It still expects most people to post clips using links from sites like YouTube, Hulu and Vimeo.

People familiar with Twitter’s thinking say the switch would be a way of further refining Twitter’s consistency and user experience, better shaping how users encounter Twitter content. It’s Twitter’s theme over the past year. (Example: The LinkedIn situation from months ago.)

While these video services take some of the heavy lifting off of Twitter, they also create difficulties. For one, Twitter has no control over the changes others make to their products. Yet often, Twitter must deal with the fallout when these changes occur. So, say, a third-party Twitter developer screws something up for its users — those users don’t necessarily go to the developer with complaints, but instead take it directly to Twitter.

I’d imagine, too, that every time Twitter updates one of its clients, it is frustrating to configure the new version to work with a number of outside hosting services. Add in the fact that Twitter has clients across multiple operating systems, and it fast becomes a logistical headache.

It’s not only about tech problems, but creating better ways to make tweets richer. Over the past few months, Twitter has slowly, increasingly updated the product to be more media-friendly, with full photos, videos and snippets of news articles now viewable from within individual tweets themselves.

Owning that rich video experience has monetization upside. One source says building a more effective video player could be a way of better enhancing the company’s existing advertising products, namely the promoted suite.

Look at it this way: If a big brand buys a promoted tweet, the advertiser needs to make that tweet as compelling as possible to get their money’s worth. The better the tweet, the higher the likelihood of click-through or, at minimum, brand awareness. A simpler, more reliable way for partners to host their video makes for a better, media-rich stream. In theory, it’s good for both users and advertisers.

Who it’s not so good for: These third-party hosting services. Were Twitter to follow through with the plan, this would seriously dampen the number of video uploads these services would receive. Users could still upload video to these third-party services and then add the link in manually, but the loss of official Twitter app integration would sting.

As of today, it’s not a done deal; Folks inside the company are still hashing out whether to make the change. But if it were to come about, I’d expect it to come quietly in a future product update.

(Image courtesy of Juan Manuel Romo)

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