After Microsoft and Google announced search deals with Twitter yesterday, several startups that focus on real-time search — OneRiot, Wowd and Collecta (see disclosure at the bottom) — put on a positive front in an article by Jolie O’Dell at ReadWriteWeb, saying their businesses will be around for the long haul. But the entrance of the two tech giants in a market originally dominated by startups is likely to send shivers down any company’s spine.
Without a doubt, it will be a tough road ahead for real-time search upstarts. Not only are Google and Microsoft household names, but Google has long dominated the U.S. search market — it captured 80 percent of it last month. A slate of real-time Twitter search engines sprouted up over the summer, and though many of them are compelling products, here’s a reality check: How many of your non-tech savvy friends actually know about them?
But it’s not all doom and gloom for some. After viewing Microsoft’s demo of its Twitter search feature on Bing, I discovered it’s lacking some of the features offered by other real-time search engines. TweetMeme, for instance, aggregates the most popular links on Twitter, including YouTube videos and photos, based in part on the number of times people have retweeted them. While Bing lets you see popular embedded links about a certain topic, so far it’s limited to just news and blog articles.
Another startup that offers something Bing doesn’t is OneRiot, which launched a product last month that offers up sponsored links to content related to the real-time search results it renders. OneRiot’s founders believe this product will be the standard monetization model for Twitter-focused apps, which could be potent enough to help the company stick around in the long-term.
There’s one caveat, however. Google’s Twitter search offering has yet to be released, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of a threat it poses in the real-time search engine space.
Disclosure: Collecta is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.