Over the past few days we’ve been reporting about Twitter’s new photo-sharing service, which will allow users to upload and attach photos to tweets directly from Twitter.com, the official Twitter apps, and inevitably your favourite Twitter client shortly after that.

The feature is rolling out over the next few weeks, and will be closely-watched by the existing Twitter photo-sharing platforms such as Twitpic, yfrog and Lockerz, who risk losing an enormous number of users – and advertising dollars – to Twitter’s official product, while Photobucket, Twitter’s image-hosting partner of choice, have so much to gain.

But just how much is at stake? This new study from analytics firm Sysomos on how people are currently sharing their images on Twitter gives us some insight into who has the most to lose.

On May 30th Sysomos analysed all the tweets from that day and determined that:

  • 14.9% of all tweets contained a link
  • 1.25% of all tweets contained a link to a picture from a photo sharing service

Sysomos they concluded that 1/12th of all links shared on Twitter are photos. Twitter gets about 170 million tweets on a busy day, which means that around 14 million contain links and 2.125 million contain links to pictures from third party services.

From this, Sysomos was able to determine that the most popular image-sharing service was Twitpic (45.7%), followed by yfrog (29.3%), Lockerz (17.4%) and Instagram (5.2%). Sysomos says that random sampling from other days produced similar results.

This tells us a couple of things. First, Twitpic is in a lot of trouble, especially in light of their recent problems with rights issues for photos, which has left many users scratching their heads and initiated a vocal exodus from others. Yfrog, too, are going to feel the sting.

And second, that the one to watch here is Instagram. The service has an Apple-like following and devotion from users, and has long been the medium of choice for Twitter executive chairman Jack Dorsey, even as recently as June 1. But that may quickly change, as Dorsey has already retweeted a post from the official Twitter profile that has given the first example of how these new photos will be distributed. Instagram has a small share that isn’t in any way dependent on Twitter, and I would expect the platform to maintain its user loyalty.

Of course, if Twitter’s embedded 23-30 character ‘shortened’ URL for their image-uploading tool is here to stay, the impact on these third party image services might not be quite as severe as was perhaps anticipated.

Finally, and just in case you missed it, Twitter has made an official video about their new photo-sharing functionality, which gives you a lot more detail about how this will (hopefully) become part of everybody’s Twitter experience. Gotta love that Twitter laptop, too.