SAN FRANCISCO -- Web 2.0 Summit -- Twitter's made a lot of friends in high places today, launching partnerships with both Microsoft and Google through which both search engines will have access to Twitter's real-time public Tweets.
Microsoft's president of online services, Qi Lu, led off here with the news -- as well as the news that Bing will also be indexing Facebook data at a later date -- prompting some to mumble that Google must be pounding its desk. However, Lu noted that the deal was "non-exclusive," a hint that more news is to come.
And, hark! Just a few hours later, Marissa Mayer, VP of search at Google, posted a blog saying that Google, too, has formed a partnership with Twitter:
Given this new type of information and its value to search, we are very excited to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results. We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, and we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months.
Bing's Twitter search engine is available in beta here. It's very similar to Twitter's own search engine, Twitter Search, but it applies "best match" technology to Tweets to rank them by popularity, quality, and usefulness. Two other things Bing is doing with Twitter is including a tag cloud (similar to Twitter's "trending topics" list) and -- more importantly -- providing an option to expand short links, giving users more assurance that what they're clicking isn't going to take them somewhere seedy.
On Google's end, fewer details were disclosed regarding Twitter, but Mayer said she's looking forward to having a product to showcase "in the coming months" and considers real-time search a "really fundamental need."
In addition to the Twitter partnership, Mayer took the stage to introduce a coming Google product: social search. With social search, a product of Google Labs, searchers will be able to do a regular search and -- by checking "content written by people in my social network" -- they'll be able to derive search results based on what their friends are saying.
Of course... this requires giving Google more information.
"You need to be signed into Google and have a Google profile where you place different social networks you're a part of so we can determine who else you're connected to," said Mayer.
So, what does all of this mean? A few things:
- The deals with Twitter put Microsoft and Google in better positions to produce real-time search results and track what people are saying at any given point during the day. Of course, it also puts them in a great position to aggregate more useless information, considering how much content on Twitter falls into that category.
- On the social front, with Microsoft's plans to aggregate Facebook data, and Google's social search, the two are pushing forward into what Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg today called the move from an "information economy" to a "social economy." In other words, we're moving away from caring about the information of the whole Web, and zeroing in on our "Friends."
- It also presents a potential revenue stream for Twitter... though Lu and Mayer wouldn't note any specific financials.
- Finally, the Twitter deals present a new way for users to scan the real-time Web, and it takes the burden off of Twitter's own search engine, which spent most of today looking like this:
— Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Internet Evolution