The search engine wars just entered real time. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced it had joined forces with Twitter and Facebook to present real-time status updates in Bing search results. Within hours, Microsoft's arch-rival Google shot back that it had also reached a similar agreement with Twitter. Conspicuously absent from the headlines was Yahoo, which earlier this year revealed it too was contemplating mining real-time data after agreeing to collapse its own search engine, the world's second most popular, into number three Bing. Following the huge announcements, bloggers attempted to hash out exactly who had the most to gain from the deals:
- Microsoft Even after finding out about the Google/Twitter deal, many bloggers still gave Microsoft the edge, saying the company won a strategic victory in being first to market with Twitter-search and made a wise choice in purchasing a 1.6% share of Facebook two years ago. Wired's Ryan Singel compares the announcements as follows: "Google’s announcement comes without even a beta site for users to try. Microsoft, by contrast, launched a real-time search at bing.com/twitter earlier [on Wednesday]…as of this fall, it oddly looks like Microsoft, not Google, is leading search innovation." And as TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid reminds readers, although Facebook's deal with Microsoft is non-exclusive also, the world's largest social network clearly has it's preferences: "Google and Facebook have butted heads in the past. And Microsoft has a long history with Facebook: the company supplements Facebook's search with Bing results, and it controls a small stake in the company after investing$240 million at a sky-high $15 billion valuation back in late 2007."
- Google Fast Company's Chris Dannen was undoubtedly impressed that Microsoft made the first move, and encouraged Google to "step up" in advance of their own announcement. Once Google made it's own Twitter-deal known, he weighed in again with his opinion that the number one search engine would take the cake in the end: "Bing has won what could prove to be a major coup in the race to integrate real-time information into Web search. But chances are, Google will edge them out in the long-game." He wasn't the only one who felt this way--Scrutinizing the current Bing Twitter Seach Beta, Ars Technica's Emil Protalinski offered a similar assessment: "Given what Bing is offering right now though, we wouldn't be surprised if Google did more than just catch up."
- Yahoo PC World's Tony Bradley said it was too soon to count Yahoo out of the game: "Yahoo, by virtue of its partnership with Bing, should benefit from the social networking alliances as well. Yahoo is essentially conceding indexing the Web and providing the backend search engine capabilities to Bing, and focusing on ads and other front-end Web portal type projects. Since Yahoo relies on the Bing search engine Yahoo searches should include any real-time search results from Facebook and Twitter."
- Twitter Daily Finance's Sam Gustin interpreted the news of the deals as a decisive victory for the young micro-blogging platform, long critiqued for failing to turn popularity into positive cash flow. Although the figures behind the deals have yet to be made public, Gustin was sure that Twitter would be earning enough to prove it's enduring worth to skeptics: "With the completion of two deals, Twitter looks poised to see the bucks start to roll in -- and make all the critics who called Twitter a stupid fad eat their words." He went on to make the case that Twitter's grand transition, "from flavor of the month start-up to global communications catalyst," was indicative of the larger shift in how users interact with Internet, i.e. increasingly in real-time. The New York Times blog Dealbook makes an equally flattering appraisal of Twitter's increasing worth.
- Facebook At ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick provided a useful chart-overview for comparing the positions of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft following the consecutive announcements. With each company's distinct strengths and weaknesses, he called the fight very close indeed. But he did pick a favorite: Facebook. As he writes: "More now than ever, Google needs Twitter data to combat Facebook's social dominance - Facebook is five to ten times as big as Twitter today….No one is set to be the clear winner here, but with far more social activity and a multi-layered partnership with the first qualified web-search challenger to Google in years (Bing) Facebook may in fact have the strongest hand."
- Spammers Search Views blogger Mark Pilatowski noted the popular enthrallment with the news announcements, but countered with some observant skepticism. Twitter, he reminded readers, isn't exactly a jackpot of useful information. In fact, it is increasingly clogged with spam, an enormous issue that it's new giant-search hosts will have to contend with if they hope to make it useful: "The bigger Twitter spammers are probably salivating at the opportunity to get their crap out to more people via the major search engines. Couple that with the fact that there are probably a few ingenious spammers out there who have ignored Twitter until now. With the additional reach of Bing and Google these spammers will jump right in and the odds are high that we will see a surge in spam."
- Users TechCrunch's Erik Schonfeld promoted the idea that Twitter's public feed, aka "the firehose," is a valuable to all internet users because it is so responsive. Making it searchable will only improve the communications medium overall: "It’s hard to beat millions of people Tweetng out their thoughts—the “pulse of the planet,” if you will—for realtime information about every subject imaginable….The results should be a more relevant, faster feedback loop between data appearing on the Internet and the search engines finding it." India Business Blogger Ankit Agrawal agreed: "Given my tendency to hop over to Twitter Search to catch up on the latest news, I sure feel that the integration is bound to enhance the whole search experience."