In July, Google’s arrangement with Twitter to index all tweets, make them searchable in realtime and have a REAL historical search database of tweets that goes back further than the recent past (a trick that Twitter itself can’t seem to figure out) came to an end. It was a blow to both parties because Google lost a valuable piece of the social graph for its index which limits its abilities to take real social cues for search results and Twitter lost 65% of the US search market and even larger chunks of that market internationally.
Now some would say that Twitter should be fine because it still has an arrangement with Bing and Yahoo to do the same with its search results. That sounds nice but it’s the same as saying rather than drinking Coca-Cola you are only allowed to drink the grocery store version of a cola instead. Sure, you can say its cola but it ain’t the real thing.
Yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo gave some insight as to why Google and Twitter just can’t seem to get along about this. Here is a quote from the Telegraph.
At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Twitter’s chief executive revealed to the Telegraph that negotiations with Google on renewing the partnership had failed so far.
“We [Twitter and Google] just can’t agree on what the appropriate value exchange is. And I don’t mean that in terms of dollars…There are all sorts of details that we couldn’t come to grips with.”
What would be most interesting is to learn exactly what those details are. Considering some of the changes that have occurred in Google+ lately which include realtime search and the support of hashtags (smells a lot like Twitter bird cookin’ doesn’t it?) one can take a pretty safe guess that as Google+ looks more like Twitter in some areas, Twitter won’t be very happy.
That makes sense. So is there hope for a deal? Not if this statement is any indication.
Costolo said that despite 25 per cent of Twitter’s workforce having previously worked at Google, with many good relationships still intact, he “didn’t know” when tweets would start appearing in the search engine’s index.
The real losers in all of this are folks like us, the searchers. It’s obvious that people prefer Google for search and would like it to provide everything it can to make search results relevant. Without Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) Google’s ability to use social as a search cue is hampered. While they can say that 40 million users on Google+ will provide the difference we all know that the actual use of Google+ is not even remotely close to the current level of Twitter and Facebook. It’s in this scenario that the Coca-Cola metaphor referred to earlier gets turned against Google. Their version of social cues are a poor substitute for the real thing of Twitter and Facebook.
Of course, like anything else these tables could turn but for the near term it is not likely.
If you were Google would you be doing anything within your power to bring Twitter back to your search index or would you be betting the search farm on Google+ gaining enough real traction to take its place as a social powerhouse? Personally, I would be working like crazy to get another two year deal (like the origianl) in place which would give Google+ enough time to prove whether or not it can provide the depth of data to go it alone without Twitter.
But hey, Google is packed with PhD’s and other really decorated folks who know better, right?