Each year, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) releases its top search terms as part of analyzing the results of billions of searches conducted by users throughout the year. Called the Year End Zeitgeist, the list is a good way to get a sense of where people’s interests have been for the past 12 months and of what’s trendy.
The year 2009 is not finished yet, but Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), in an attempt to get a jump on the competition, has released the top search terms for Bing for 2009. Here are Bing’s top 10:
1) Michael Jackson
3) Swine Flu
4) Stock Market
5) Farrah Fawcett
6) Patrick Swayze
7) Cash for Clunkers
8) Jon and Kate Gosselin (TV couple)
9) Billy Mays (pitchman)
10) Jaycee Dugard (kidnap victim)
The Bing team also released a sneak peek at the top living celebrity searches in 2009, which included actress Megan Fox (#3), actor Robert Pattinson (#2), and amazingly, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (#1).
Is anyone else impressed that Twitter outranked Swine Flu and every other search term except for Michael Jackson? And that a blogger, through November, is the #1 searched celebrity? (Do you think people just confused Perez with Paris?)
Google’s Year End Zeitgeist 2009 will be out shortly, and it will be interesting to see if Twitter ranks on that list as well. Last year, Facebook’s login page ranked #3 on Google’s 2008 Zeitgeist, ahead of Heath Ledger, Barack Obama, and the Jonas Brothers. And Facebook was #2 behind Obama for the U.S. “fastest rising” entries on Google last year. I'll bet Facebook’s not on either list this year.
Does the fact that Twitter is topping lists of trending topics further boost its already “fuzzy” valuation? You bet; as does the fact that Tweets are often the first source of news. Twitter frequently breaks stories, such as the recent Tiger Woods accident, ahead of mainstream news outlets like CNN and Fox News. Indeed, this type of “tailwind” will only help Twitter’s lofty valuation.
Twitter’s ranking so high on Bing’s list also is intriguing to me because of the recent deal struck between Microsoft and Twitter Inc. to allow Bing to search Twitter feeds. As you'll recall, Twitter inked a similar deal with Google at the same time.
As I've speculated, I think this is more about posturing for a sale than it is creating a revenue model. In fact, I don't think Twitter wants a revenue model at all.
Biz Stone predictably refutes naysayers like me. Twitter’s founder was recently quoted at Oxford University as saying: “2010 is really going to be the revenue year. I don’t know if we’re going to be profitable, but we have plenty of time.”
And he also said at the same Oxford event: "We are definitely not interested in selling the company. If an IPO's the only thing, then sure. But if there is some other way then that would be great, too. Maybe some other new way will emerge."
Given the fickle nature of the Internet, what are the chances Twitter will top the search engine Zeitgeist lists in 2010? And what does that mean for the company’s momentum? Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and magically develop a killer revenue model.
My guess is Biz’s real plan isn’t an IPO… It’s sell the company, take the money, and run.
— David Vellante spent 15 years at IDC and is a founder of The Wikibon Project. He can be reached on Twitter at @dvellante.