February 15, 2011

Twitter Chief Says Google Partnership Is ‘Rumor’

The chief executive of Twitter, Dick Costolo, has dismissed talk of a $10 billion partnership with Google as "rumor" at this week's Mobile World Congress keynote speech. He laughed off questions about tie-ups with Facebook and Google, saying he didn't know "where such talk came from."

Mr. Costolo said that 40% of tweets now come from mobile platforms and that Twitter needed "deeper integration" in smartphones and an extension of how it is made available to more basic phones.

In remarks about how he wants Twitter to work seamlessly on all mobile software, Mr. Costolo said, "We want deep smartphone integration and stronger text messaging integration. It has to just work the same way everywhere it is used."

According to BBC News, he offered little detail on how this would be achieved, beyond saying that he wanted more "single sign-ons."

"We want to be able to tweet from any app, without having to fire up another application," he said.

A majority of the keynote speech was devoted to Twitter's growth. Regularly carrying 130 million tweets a day, tweets increase during major events, such as the football World Cup which saw upwards of 3,000 tweets a second. The record, he revealed, was 6,000 tweets per second in Japan at New Year's Eve.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at research firm Ovum wished for more details on how Twitter could be integrated with mobiles. "We expected more; for example what Twitter is doing to build its application ecosystem given the importance of apps in adding value to the service and the fact that a growing number of Twitter users interact with the service via apps," she remarked to BBC News.

"We also hoped Twitter would show that it intends to leverage mobile location better than it is, and likewise search," she added.

Playing up Twitter's value during TV shows such as live sports, Mr. Costolo hinted at possible tie-ins with TV advertisers, saying that the service was turning people against DVRs and on-demand services because they preferred to watch in "real time" so that they could tweet.

TV advertisers would welcome this assertion as people increasingly use DVRs and other methods to watch content but skip over commercials.

Disappointed that Mr. Costolo did not say more about how he intends for the company to make money, Zoller said, "Twitter quoted figures on healthy growth and use, which is good but not surprising. What it didn't provide was concrete details on was how effective its nascent businesses are proving to be in driving revenues - lots of case studies of cool brands using Twitter but no hard line on the margins this brings to Twitter."

Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer revealed in an earlier keynote speech, that it plans to integrate Twitter as one of a raft of updates to Windows phones, coming later this year. Other updates include a version of Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 9, for phones and deeper ties with gaming services Xbox and Kinect.


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