Get ready for the mobile photo-sharing revolution

I took this photo during a January snow storm in D.C. It’s dark and moody and the snow is whipping around in what looks like 10 different directions. If I was a better photographer, I might be able to tell you how I thoughtfully set my exposure and aperture before waiting for just the exact moment to fire off several frames. Except, I only snapped one picture and it was with an iPhone. Before I left that corner, I had processed the photo with one of the 13 filters on the Instagram app and uploaded it simultaneously to my Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts (and it would have gone to Foursquare, too, if I hadn’t entered the wrong password).

If you’re one of the 2 million iPhone users who have discovered Instagram since it launched in October, then you know how addictive it can be. Instagram and its competitors Hipstamatic, PicPlz and Path are battling it out for their piece of the mobile photo-sharing market (Okay, maybe not Path. Does anyone out there even use that?)

The one thing that sets these apps apart from their online photo-sharing forebears i.e. Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket etc, is that they have been designed specifically for the mobile phone, rather than the Web.

And before you write them off as just a gimick, consider that a New York Times photographer took third place in the prestigious Pictures of the Year International for photos taken with a mobile phone and the Hipstamatic app.

You can expect mobile photo-sharing services to zoom to even greater heights this year, as a wave of developers start producing new apps that tie into Instagram, Hipstamatic et al.

The New York Times Bits blog recently wrote about Instagram’s new API, which follows a $7 million infusion of capital earlier this month. (Incidently, PicPlz launched its API hours before Instagram.)

Instagram’s blog has some examples of how the API will allow other apps such as Foodspotting and Memento to integrate Instagram’s photos into their services.