Maybe Twitter is going through midlife crisis. For a while, it was the cool new thing, first only the cool people used it. Then, more and more joined, but it was still fresh, it was still the "future" and was getting a lot of praise from the mainstream media.But then, just like a youngster fresh out of college, it realized that being popular is great and all, but it doesn't pay the bills, so it started looking at ways it could make money.
Twitter is probably doing better financially, but all of the developers it pushed to the side weren't that happy with it.
Perhaps a better analogy is a lead singer who now thinks he's too cool for the band and goes on a solo career.
But just as lead singers quickly realize that it wasn't all just about them and that the rest of the band actually contributed to the success, Twitter is realizing that going solo isn't as easy as it sounded.
The solution is not getting friendly with developers though, it's adding photo filters. Twitter is a year or two late to this particular party, but it's not bothered by that.
After the initial success of Instagram and co., "everyone" was adding filters to their apps in the hope that the same success would follow. It didn't of course.
Twitter is not only jumping on the bandwagon, it's doing long after the bandwagon crashed to the side of the road.
Apparently, Twitter's latest genius plan to stay relevant and prevent Instagram from "stealing" its users' time is to add photo filters to its mobile app.
The idea is that, if the filters are built into Twitter, no one will have any need for Instagram anymore.
Obviously, that line of thinking isn't new, but most of the companies that thought they could do that and compete with Instagram aren't around anymore.
That's because, no matter how shallow or superficial you think Instagram is, and it is, its success has nothing to do with filters.
Just like Facebook's success didn't have anything to do with the news feed, the profile, photos or whatever else.
Their success comes down to something very simple yet hard to understand and harder to do, they have a good product.
People don't use Instagram because they can alter their photos, they use it because it's easy, it's fun, they get to check out cool photos from others and they can share their photos easily with their friends.
The experience is simple and smooth. The network effect doesn't hurt either, at over 100 million users Instagram is huge.
But it's harder to replicate a great experience, mostly because you can't. You can't replicate it, you have to build it. It's much easier to simply copy whatever superficial feature stands out the most and call it a day.
This is why there are plenty of search engines, but only one Google, plenty of social networks, but only one Facebook, plenty of photo sharing apps, but only one Instagram.