Just a couple of years ago Twitter was celebrating big-money tie-ins with both Google and Bing. Now, with the former already having dropped full integration, Microsoft could potentially follow suit.
For a company that isn’t supported by advertising, instead favouring sponsored Tweets and accounts, every revenue stream is crucial – particularly one that is potentially worth $30million. Whilst extension talks are ongoing; Twitter will no doubt be sweating over the much-needed investment whilst social search could be on the brink of another major upheaval.
The biggest issue facing existing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, is the emergence of new competitors – notably Google+. With Microsoft also apparently working on their own platform, the need to aggregate data at a relatively high cost is far less appealing.
In 2009 Google and Bing were trying to kick-start a real-time search drive. The immediacy of Twitter and high volume of available data to mine meant that it was the perfect platform for search engines. Google now have the Plus project though, and so can gauge trends and user authority much quicker. If Microsoft are working on something similar, a Twitter feed could be deemed surplus to requirements.
The social/search divide has narrowed hugely in the past couple of years. Whilst some still see Facebook as a major competitor to Google, in recent weeks there has been a distinct shift in the prevailing winds. The ‘Like’ has been matched by +1, whilst Plus itself provides a whole new social network and a wealth of opportunities for the search engine – particularly where personalisation is concerned.
Google+ could have an even greater on Twitter of course. Not only has it cost the company a lucrative contract, but it could see usage slip and membership plateau. It doesn’t have the popularity of Facebook and certainly doesn’t enjoy the same kind of funding. Only last week there were murmurings about raising $400million, valuing the company at $8billion, just to keep things rolling along. Maybe even an IPO, like LinkedIn, could be on the cards. However, sustainability is clearly a concern.
If Microsoft were to deal a double blow, removing syndicated social search and launching its own platform, it would be interesting to see the evolution of Twitter. It seems likely that it will either shrivel up and die or carve out its own niche within the market. It’s a confusing time and one where conditions are markedly changeable.
Even if Microsoft does sign on the dotted line, it should be an interesting 12 months in the social/search world. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Twitter struggling in a year’s time, but it is also equally likely that they will have found new ways to monetise and expand the service currently offered. There’s no doubting that Google have thrown a massive spanner in the works, but Microsoft could well be on the cusp of doing exactly the same.