The news came in yesterday that Twitter signed a sear ch deal with Microsoft and Google. Microsoft’s Bing and Google are going to have access to the real time stream from Twitter, which is commonly called “the firehose”. The firehose something that not many companies are given according to Twitter own Frequently Asked Questions.
Up until now, Twitter has relied on the technology of Summize, a company it purchased in July of 2008, for search within Twitter. (ref. “With Summize, Twitter to Buy a Clue from GigaOm) Twitter doesn’t allow for historical search through its search interface, as messages seem to go back as far as two weeks. Those interested in real time search are satisfied to see why “RIP Kanye West” is trending, but if you’re interested in something someone said four months ago you’re out of luck. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been archiving my tweets. If you’re interested in searching in Twitter Bing offers a very useful Twitter search page and Twitter results will be included in Google searches. This is a departure from the usual actions towards extending Twitter functionality the company has taken in the past.
When Twitter announces new features, usually an announcement would benefit the developers that helped drive attention to Twitter. The recent addition of location into published messages is an example of that. The search deals with Google and Microsoft’s Bing are the first steps Twitter has taken while thinking about itself and not the community of users and developers. This move is something that directly benefits Twitter and does harm to the developer community. It’s a selfish move from a company that has been very giving.
The ecosystem of companies who allow you to use Twitter for more than 140 character status updates is very rich. If you want to include video in Twitter, use 12Seconds. Photos? TwitPic. Search was perviously done in an unofficial way by Collecta, OneRiot, Scoopler and Excla.im. These are sites that didn’t pay Twitter money to access search, I assume they used the Twitter API to put their searches together.
If Twitter is making money off of the search deals, then more power to them. While I don’t see any ads on the Twitter search pages on Bing, I assume they’ll show up soon, and barely anything Google Search related exists without advertisements. I imagine that if these companies are benefitting financially from including Twitter search results, Twitter will be seeing a share of that money.