Did the expired agreement between Twitter and Google cause Google Realtime to shut down? It appears that's the case, as a quick glance at Google Realtime reveals, well, nothing besides Google's nifty 404 page. While neither side has confirmed the reason Realtime shut down, the assumption points directly to the expired partnership between the two.
Google Realtime functioned by leveraging results from a number of social media platforms, however, the most notable contributor was, of course, Twitter. While it's true results from Facebook's fan pages also showed up in Google Realtime, without the constant chatter from Twitter users, apparently there isn't as much real time data to serve in search results. Another idea concerning Realtime's suspended operations has to do with the integration of Google +. With that in mind, one would have to believe Google already planned for Google + integration, so taking the service offline just to include another platform, regardless if its Google's or not, seems like a "cutting your nose off to spite your face" kind of strategy.
Then again, was Google Realtime so popular that people are running to the streets with torches and pitchforks, demanding the service be turned back on? Not so much, at least not on Twitter, with the exception of the Google Realtime Twitter account:
We've temporarily disabled google.com/realtime. We're exploring how to
incorporate Google+ into this functionality, so stay tuned.
Speaking of Twitter, concerning the expired agreement between Google and Twitter, a Google representative offered the following quote to SearchEngineLand, concerning the suspended Realtime service, which tries to paint the picture that the Twitter deal was not the only reason the service was suspended:
Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2. While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.
Google went as far to name Danny Sullivan as the apparent go-to for all things Google Realtime:
Google indicates that Twitter results will still be available in search results, however, when conducting a standard Google search. As of now, this appears to be somewhat inaccurate, at least in regards to the previous method with which those results were served. A search for never-ending Twitter trend that is Justin Bieber shows zero Twitter reaction, which is likely a result of the expired agreement. Granted, there are links to Twitter account related to "Biebs," but there sure aren't any tweets appearing.
Sullivan's article also reveals that Twitter is "open to exploring other collaborations in the future," while referring to the situation as a standoff. Does the "other collaborations" portion of the quote mean users won't be seeing Twitter posts showing up in normal Google results or the updated Realtime when it's again made available to the public, or is there some other kind of agreement the two parties are ready to launch? Currently, there aren't any answers besides speculation and educated guesses.