Is Twitter Ready For Mainstream Real-Time Search?
If you are a Twitter user, you have probably experienced errors trying to use the service a time or two. In fact, Twitter being "over capacity" is so common on Twitter that the "Fail Whale", which is displayed in such instances has something of a cult following. People even wear T-shirts sporting the image.
To be fair, the problem doesn’t usually last long. Often, you can try to access it a minute after an error and carry on just fine…until the next time. The problem is that there’s always a next time, and that next time doesn’t seem to usually be too far off.
Yet users don’t seem to really mind this frequent issue. Surely it has annoyed many to no end, but the issue is not something that often makes mainstream headlines – not like when something like Gmail goes down, which is a much more rare occurrence. Perhaps it is the transparency of the issue that Twitter employs. It updates the Twitter Status Blog daily most of the time to alert users of known issues, but nothing they ever do seems to truly correct the problem of frequent disruption.
2010 promises to be a huge year for Twitter. They’re opening up the firehose to developers, which means Twitter applications will be able to do a lot more things, and a lot more apps will likely be built as a result. Combine that with the fact that Google is now showing real-time results from Twitter in its own search results for many queries. It’s hard to imagine that Twitter won’t grow significantly more in usage next year as it is thrust even more in people’s faces.
Is Twitter really prepared to handle the kind of growth that could be in store for it? Is this frequent disruption going to continue or will the problem get better? Some companies may be worried about their own reputation with Google showing real-time Twitter results on SERPs. If Twitter continues to be frequently "over capacity", how will that bode for Twitter’s own reputation with the public (many of who are already skeptical of the service’s potential)?