According to TechCrunch (Updated - from Twitter no less. Late stage turned into early stage), who have two separate, unnamed sources, Google is doing what everyone always thought they would: buy Twitter.
Twitter popularity has crested recently, entering the mainstream vernacular. How do I know this? As the tech guy in my circle of friends and colleagues, I've heard the "What is Twitter" and "How do I use Twitter" at an alarming rate over the last month. It is very similar to what Facebook was like a year or so ago.
If you aren't familiar with Twitter's background, I'd suggest the following 10 minute video from a TED Talks:
As you can see, Twitter has been growing in importance, size and scope.
Twitter turned down an offer to be bought by Facebook a few months ago for half a billion dollars so the price may be near a billion dollars worth of cash and Google stock. The Facebook offer was in exchange for Facebook stock which fluctuates pretty wildly so an Apples to Apples comparison can't be made.
Is this a good fit for Google? Sure, they have the advertising engine to throw up on Twitter pages and monetize the pageviews. They have the infrastructure to keep Twitter from failing during high activity important events as well.
Most importantly for Google, Twitter and its newly acquired real-time search engine have become the internet radar of current events. When people post a Tweet, it is immediately searchable and viewable by anyone looking to find news on that subject. This effectively turns all of Twitter's users into roving micro-reporters. Events like the US Airways plane landing in the Hudson have showcased this.
This kind of information could be pulled into the very popular Google News page. Twitter could also help Google produce a better News page with a better pool of data from which to pool stories and gauge their popularity. It could also help Google's lagging social networking site, Orkut, by establishing connections between google users.
Twitters founders aren't new to selling ideas to Google. Google bought Blogger from Evan Williams and Biz Stone just five years ago.
Undoubtedly, and probably rightfully, if this happens, the "Google is too powerful" lobby will gain a lot of power.
Biz Stone was on Colbert last night ... so maybe negotiations aren't that heavy.
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