I think this late focus on filters is at best silly and at worst distracting from real innovation, cluttering up products, and simply misguided. Thoughts?
Filters serve a simple purpose from a logistics perspective: They're deodorant for crappy photos.
Well designed filters can make crap photos look better, which improves the feeling folks have about them and makes them more willing to share them. So, in that respect, they can definitely add a catalyst.
Instagram's filters accelerated a phenomenon that it had already noticed in Burbn, which is that a focused community of photo sharers that existed only on mobile generated a feeling of comfort and exclusivity that encouraged content creation.
The filters were an accelerant, not a genesis. So including them is fine, but you'd better have something else going on there first.
Most of the counter-arguments to MG's post seem to hinge on the belief that "filters" are a commodity feature that any photo-uploading service NEEDS. Similar to a follow model or one-click feedback, "of course" you need photo filters. I'm not sure I buy those arguments but I see why they could be valid.
At one point in time post titles were a Pro feature of Blogger meaning you had to pay $25 for them. The form of the blog post evolve such that titles became de rigeur.
I feel the same thing has happened with photos. Filters are a way to impart meaning. Twitter including them isn't an attempt to crush Instagram but build a feature complete photos experience.
I hate to do the link drop thing, but after reading Nick's post, which I think is dead on, I thought I'd leave this here. The fact that Twitter needs to fill itself with media is why it chose to add an accelerant in the form of filters. It already has the social stream, this is a leavening to prevent the exit of media-sharers out to other pastures. I'd be damned surprised if video wasn't live within months.
Thanks for your feedback! Team Branch