Twitter Starts Selling Tweets to Google and Microsoft (Bing)

Looks like Twitter has finally figured out a way to monetize its real time data generated by over 19 million monthly users. Twitter Inc. is selling the rights to mine its communications hotbed to both Internet search leader Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in dueling deals that underscore the growing importance of being able to show what’s on people’s minds at any given moment.

Google announced the Twitter deal on its blog Wednesday, less than three hours after Microsoft trumpeted its own Twitter partnership at a San Francisco technology conference. However, this time Microsoft seemed to have seized the upper hand in the information arms race when its top Internet executive, Qu Li, took the stage at a technology conference in San Francisco. Refusing to be upstaged, Google’s Internet search index will include public updates from Twitter’s communications stream.

Had it been exclusive, Microsoft might have been able to lure traffic away from Google because tracking Twitter’s updates is becomingly an increasingly popular way to find out what people are talking about at any given moment. It’s real-time information that it didn’t look like Google’s search engine would be able to provide – the kind of competitive advantage that Microsoft has been seeking while investing billions of dollars in what so far has been a fruitless effort to narrow Google’s huge lead in Internet search.

Twitter Starts Selling Tweets to Google and Microsoft (Bing)

Now both Google and Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, hope to prove they are the best way to find and analyze Twitter’s messages, also known as tweets.

Neither Microsoft nor Google would disclose how much it is paying for the rights to index the millions of public updates distributed by Twitter each day. The data is considered to be among Twitter’s most valuable assets, raising the possibility that the Google and Microsoft deals will result in the first meaningful revenue for Twitter.

“There is a revenue component … but we’ve yet to see how significant that will be,” Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams wrote in a Wednesday e-mail to The Associated Press.

Microsoft has a head start in blending Twitter’s feed into Bing’s search results. A test version of Bing’s Twitter feature debuted Wednesday shortly after the announcement.

Google still isn’t indexing and displaying all the tweets, although that will happen soon, said Marissa Mayer, a Google executive in charge of search products and user experience. She left little doubt that Google’s search engine would become less useful without the Twitter access, especially when people are trying to get updates about an event that just happened.

“You have to have the answers in order to return them to your users,” Mayer said. “That’s why a deal like this is so important. It allows us to find answers we couldn’t previously have found.”

It would be interesting to see how this deal is going to work for Google and Bing respectively and of course, for Twitter as well, considering that this is probably the first significant revenue for the San Francisco-based startup since its 2006 inception.

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