Rumors are flying that Google is in talks to buy Twitter. Microsoft should resist the temptation to become a "me-too" bidder to try to buy the company out from Google. Twitter might offer Microsoft some badly needed "cool," but that's about it.
Michael Arrington on TechCrunch reports that Google is in the late stages of negotiations to buy Twitter, for more than $250 million. He also says:
But there's one big question -- where's Microsoft in all this? Letting Twitter go to Google only hurts them, badly, in the long term search game. This is an asset they need to be competing for aggressively.
Arrington argues that Twitter will ultimately build a search engine to search through people's conversations on Twitter, which he says will have a great deal of value to companies wanting to understand the value of their brands, or to people searching for information about news. That's where he believes Google sees the value in Twitter, and where Microsoft should venture, he says.
I'm not convinced that Twitter search will every be a big money-maker, and certainly not big enough to warrant hundreds of millions in an investment. For Microsoft, in particular, it makes no sense at all. True, Microsoft is generally seen as old and stodgy, but buying Twitter won't change that.
As for helping Microsoft catch up to Google in search, Microsoft shouldn't even bother. It's not going to happen, and buying Twitter for hundreds of billions won't help. Microsoft should play to its strengths, notably bringing Office online, and continuing to build out its Live services. Buying Twitter would only be a distraction --- and a waste of cash.