Google dismisses Twitter as ‘poor man’s email’

4 Mar 2009

Micro-blogging tool Twitter has been all talk but no revenue stream over the past while, but is its runaway popularity enough to ruffle the feathers of Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt?

In terms of ubiquity, reach and revenue streams from advertising, Google’s search engine may seem as though it has nothing to worry about. However, with users seeing the benefits of Twitter’s search stream, the micro-blogging site has the potential to seize an immediate audience.

Yesterday at the Morgan Stanley technology conference in San Francisco, Schmidt praised Twitter’s growth and success to date, while at the same time dismissing it as a “poor man’s email system”, and adding that, as far as instant messaging goes, people use services like Google’s Gmail Chat.

Is Google deliberately missing the point of Twitter and its far-reaching search consequences for indexing real-time conversations, keywords and topics?

A trending topic will be indexed immediately on Twitter, but will take a while longer to appear in Google’s search engine.

There are a few more questions to be asked if we want to understand where Google is coming from: why did Google only officially join Twitter last week? And why did it stop development on its former competitor, Jaiku?

There was talk last week of Google possibly acquiring Twitter after it had come on board with its own account. However, Schmidt’s dismissal surely indicates that, for now, the Googleplex is happy to watch Twitter grow, meanwhile doubting its ability to be anything more than a “note phenomena”.

At the same time, Google is curious and paying attention.

According to the Silicon Alley Insider, Schmidt said: “To me, the question about companies like Twitter is: do they fundamentally evolve as sort of a note phenomenon, or do they fundamentally evolve to have storage, revocation, identity and all the other aspects that traditional email systems have? Or do email systems themselves broaden what they do to take on some of that characteristic?”

By Marie Boran

Pictured: Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt