This is obvious, but it’s worth pointing out, because I think it will be the crux of how Twitter defines its revenue potential. Last week, I tried to find out where I could watch Obama’s acceptance speech. CNN.com had it chunked up (I’m guessing for advertisement views) and the MSNBC site had a bug such that it showed the wrong video. The Democratic Convention site required Silverlight (and wasn’t updating fast enough, anyway), and C-Span took me back to 1999 by giving me a Real Media file. Searching Google gave me nothing, so I threw it out to Twitter, and less then 10 minutes later, Brad pointed me to the BBC. Boom, done.
Google has succeeded in large part because it is the first place people turn when looking for information. Twitter, and it’s real-time Q&A community, could insert itself into that behavior stream, when people know that what they’re looking for has a time-sensitivity that Google simply cannot currently handle.
In more recent days, Twitter has become a valuable in the spread of news, whether Sarah Palin’s nomination, or tracking Gustav. Google’s blog search is nearly as immediate, but just. not. quite. Twitter really does let you dip into a global conversation as it happens, for better and for worse.