Twitter is a multilingual online social network created in 2006. Twitter works as a micro-blogging service which allows users to send messages (known as tweets) of 140 characters or less. It has now more than 350 million members and is generating over 300 million tweets per day. Twitter is a great source for finding hot news and can also display a “live feed” for your preferred #hashtag so finding really hot news about any topic can be really easy. Twitter is also called the SMS of the Internet.
How did it begin?
The work on Twitter began in 2006. The original name for Twitter was twttr, a Flickr-inspired 5 character name which would stand for the American SMS short code length (which is exactly 5 characters). The first Twitter prototype was used by Odeo to whom it belonged to at the time. In October 2006, Jack Dorsey, Even Williams and Biz Stone acquired Odeo, including Twitter.com. Twitter spun off into its own company in April 2007. In 2007 Twitter was only a little popular in the US, having about 20,000 tweets per day. Twitter’s popularity exploded during the 2007 SXSWi event when the number of tweets reached 60,000 per day. This was the beginning of Twitter-mania. Many bloggers present at the conference spread the word and Twitter reached 400.000 tweets per quarter in 2007 and 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008. This amazing evolution has made Twitter another extremely influential social network on the internet. The whole world was on Twitter and in 2010, Twitter already had 50 million tweets per day and 70,000 registered Twitter applications. As of March 2011, there were about 140 million tweets posted daily and about 1550 tweets each second. Twitter was the third social network.
Twitter at the Moment
The Twitter we see now is not much different from a few years ago. Since September 2010, the company started rolling out “The New Twitter”, probably the biggest update they have made to the social network since its inception. The New Twitter was improved a lot, some of the changes being: New Photos/Videos viewing possibility, a complete overhaul of the interface and a new “top usability bar” which allowed users to perform actions easier and faster. Twitter also released Mac, iPad and iPhone Twitter clients which are all available free of charge. The company we see nowadays is the one which has over 6 hundred employees who tend to serve a community of more than 350 million users. Twitter was the first place which hosted live messages and photos sent from NASA Astronauts. Besides Astronauts, Twitter is widely used by many country presidents and celebrities. You can find Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin as well as Oprah Winfrey on Twitter. They’ve probably decided to use Twitter as their social network to interact with the people as it’s one of the easiest to use networks available right now. While Facebook’s dominance is evident over Twitter, I doubt that any celebrity will go to Facebook. On Twitter they are limited to 140 characters and they don’t have to write whole novels to impress you. This year has started very good for Twitter. They have agreed to a partnership with a Russian search engine, Yandex, which was interested in Twitter’s real time news feeds. On March 21 Twitter celebrated it’s sixth birthday, stating that it has now 340 million tweets per day, which is an extremely amazing number, compared to 20,000 tweets per day they had in 2007.
Twitter vs. Facebook
Facebook is without any doubt the biggest and the most influential social media network currently. It currently has an Alexa rank of 2, losing just 1 position to Google. Besides being the most influential social media network, along with Google it is one of the most visited websites in the world. They have 845 million members which is about 1/9 of the total world population. Facebook is used for interacting with friends and family members, chat, sharing photos and occasionally playing a game. I wouldn’t say that Facebook is a direct competitor to Twitter. While Twitter allows you to share photos and videos and have a small public conversation, it’s still not Facebook. You can keep your Facebook page and all your activity private. Twitter also allows you to do this, but the number of people using this is extremely small, so small that it could even get removed as a feature and hardly anyone would notice. When someone decides to register an account on Facebook, I don’t believe they wouldn’t register a Twitter account if they need one. Facebook and Twitter are different, and that is why they can’t “hopple” each other on their way to success.
Future of Twitter
Over the past 6 years, Twitter has evolved as no one expected. It got more than a half thousand employees, a community of more than 100 million members and a revenue of about $140 million — revenue for the year 2011. While all this may look like really surprising and great, who knows how the company’s progress will look like in a few years! Take a look at a few possible Twitter predictions.
Twitter will follow the MySpace example. Maybe this is a “gloomy” example, but that is something we should really consider and admit. Both were social networks, both had fast growth, both of them allowed you to hide your identity, both allowed you to create as many accounts as you wished. The most important association between these two is the race for the followers. The more followers you have, the better, the cooler and more awesome you are. There are already hundreds of bots and paid services which are ready to add to your account thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers for money. That’s where the spam and fake users come. There are no exact numbers on how many fake users there are on Twitter, but I believe for every real user, there is another verified fake one and about 5 unverified fake accounts. MySpace has devalued from a company priced at about $20 billion to only $30 million in a few years. Twitter can also face this problem if they don’t change their views on the identity policy and the user registration policy as well.
Twitter will go a step further. Twitter will still be a prosperous company which will grow. For this, they will have to do some serious policy updates and also improve their security. As we all know, Twitter was and probably still is the aim for many hacker attempts — many of them being successful. Twitter will have to introduce some more changes which would make their users even more engaged. Twitter isn’t known for buying many start-ups or medium-sized companies, but maybe they should start? Who knows what goldmines are hidden under the rocks of those small but very promising start-ups!
Twitter will be bought. That is the last prediction I can make for Twitter as a company itself. If this is going to take place, I see this happening in the next 2-3 years. I don’t believe Twitter will be bought by another social media network like Facebook. It is possible for Twitter to be acquired by Google, but most probably it will be Microsoft. Microsoft still doesn’t have any social media network to compete with Google or FB (Windows Live is no match, let’s admit it). Google Plus is doing pretty good and in my opinion, Microsoft won’t be able to build something of their own. They are great at building software, but building a successful and most importantly, unique social network is hard, that is why Twitter may seem like a good opportunity for them. I believe Microsoft is the company which will be able to get rid of those security branch issues and change the registration policy as well. They could even use Twitter for promotion of their own search engine, Bing. With the recent purchase of Skype, it looks like Microsoft is aiming for some nice and promising “business birds” available, and Twitter can’t be an exception.
At the moment, Twitter is a medium-sized but fast growing company. It has an amazing potential to grow and improve their service for the users, but it faces a few problems which make it lose comparing to other social networks. It has uniqueness and that is why it is still alive and will be for many years, but in order to build an amazing, long-lasting company, the heads of Twitter will have to rethink a few details about their website functionality.