Thursday, May 21, 2009

Google 'falling behind Twitter'

Google's co-founder, Larry Page, admitted today that the company has been losing out to Twitter in the race to meet web user's demand for real-time information.

Instead, the search engine's chairman and chief executive, Eric Schmidt, hinted that it could become a partner of the micro-blogging site. Twitter has come from nowhere to become the third most visited social networking site in the US in just three years by allowing its users to broadcast their thoughts, actions and news instantly.

Google's search engine, in contrast, can take hours or even days to update. While this is usually not a problem as accuracy of results is more important than speed of updating, as the internet community comes to demand ever faster information Twitter has left Google in its wake.

"People really want to do stuff real time and I think they [Twitter] have done a great job about it," Page said in a closing address at Google's Zeitgeist conference . "I think we have done a relatively poor job of creating things that work on a per-second basis."

He told the audience about the impact of technology on the world and that he has been asking his research teams to get faster. "Now I think they understand that," he said. "I think we will do a better job of some of those things."

But he admitted that there is a trade-off between making information instantly available and ensuring its accuracy.

The rise of Twitter has sparked speculation that the cash-rich Google could buy the business. Speaking after the event, Schmidt refused to comment on that speculation but admitted "they have done a very good job of 'what am I doing right now' – their tagline – it is very impressive."

He stressed that because of the way that Twitter is built, which allows any developer to take its stream of real-time messages, or tweets, and build applications around them, Google does not need to buy the business to get involved in the indexing of real-time information generated by Twitterers.

"There is a presumption that somehow you cannot have multiple solutions that co-exist," he said. "We can talk to them ... there is all sorts of stuff we can do. We do not have to buy everybody to work with them, the whole principle of the web is people can talk to each other."

Earlier in the day, Page was forced to defend Google's Street View service. "Putting someone's house on Street View is not the same as putting it in a newspaper," he said. "It's radically different."

From Media Guardian

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