Why is Google’s rumored acquisition of Twitter interesting? There are many reasons, but Internet giants trying to extend their reach into social media is not new (try Google’s search deal with MySpace or Microsoft’s investment in Facebook). The real potential and excitement rests in live search.
Live search allows users to mine real-time data and information instead of indexed Internet content that is periodically updated. The true power of this search form has yet to be unleashed, but I have had few promising personal examples. Recently, a search of tweets showed me pictures and outcomes of the crash landings of airplanes in the Hudson River in New York and Amsterdam more accurately or quickly than other media could.
Plenty of people have talked about Twitter’s true utility and ability to monetize it. Some have speculated about Twitter charging companies for the marketing service, but many have also talked about the implications of live search. Google has demonstrated the sustainability of search advertising revenue over other types of Internet business models. Meaning, as long as Twitter can continue growing its base, it can impinge on Google’s dominance in search. Google must have themselves realized this threat when CEO Eric Schmidt tried to dismiss Twitter as a “poor man’s email.”
Thus, one of the most basic early competitive arenas of the Internet, search, might be reopened for discussion. A venture capital investor with whom I spoke today confirmed this sentiment. In addition to real-time search, niche search verticals might gain more attention as well. Job search engines, such as Indeed and Simply Hired, travel search engines, such as Kayak, and music search, such as SkreemR or HypeM, already have captive audiences. What other verticals might be interesting candidates for specialized search? It is hard to say as aggregators or portals might sometimes be better suited for a job search could also do (think ratings/evaluation sites like Yelp for restaurants and bars or IMDB for movies and entertainment). It will be interesting to see what happens. If Google does buy Twitter, it might be bad news to some Twitterers, but it looks to benefit the average Internet user.