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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 1, 2011 at 9:59 AM

D9 Video: Twitter unveils search and photo service

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — Twitter used the All Things D conference to announce new photo sharing and search tools that are coming to the service over the next week.

Chief Executive Dick Costolo revealed the tools on stage in an interview with co-host Walt Mossberg, but he showed them in a video (which I’ve embedded below) and didn’t demonstrate them live on the stage.

The search tool is intended to deliver more relevant tweets and related images when users search the site or click on trending topics.

Photo sharing via Twitter has been available through services provided by other companies, but now Twitter is building in the capability to upload photos and attach them to tweets.

Twitter reached a deal with Photobucket to host the photos. Photobucket’s backers include News Corp., parent company of the Wall Street Journal and sponsor of All Things D.

Building in photo sharing could torpedo other companies that have built Twitter photo sharing services.

Asked by Mossberg how Yfrog, TwitPic and others will react, Costolo said he’d encourage them to keep developing their services and “continue to move up the value chain.”

“There’s going to be overlap in any platform where you have a thoroughly open API,” he said.

A new Pew report says about 13 percent of Americans use Twitter, but the company’s chief executive said outside groups are undercounting usage of the messaging service.

Costolo declined to estimate the percentage of Americans using the service but said it’s “growing like a weed.”

“There isn’t a third party yet that can correctly measure the Twitter audience,” he said, adding that Twitter gets more than 13 billion API requests every day from other services and applications.

Costolo admitted Twitter doesn’t even have a complete handle on what’s happening to all the messages.

“We don’t even ourselves track 100 percent where those off-network tweets go,” he said.

Costolo, who has been chief executive since October, threw out more statistics. Mobile usage has grown more than 150 percent since the beginning of the year, he said.

To put the scale in perspective, Costolo said it took three years to reach 1 billion tweets and now there are 1 billion every six days.

Costolo earlier worked at Google, which in 2007 bought the Feedburner RSS management system that he started.

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