Here’s one way that Twitter could get a guaranteed revenue stream: Charge Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to license its data and include it in their search results. Kara Swisher at AllThingsD cites unidentified sources who say that both companies are now in “advanced talks” with Twitter about some sort of search deal. The talks have been going on for quite awhile. Back in April, there were reports that Google was in discussions with Twitter about a search partnership of some sort; then in July, when TechCrunch published stolen Twitter documents, those exchanges confirmed that both Google and Microsoft executives had been talking to Twitter about a licensing deal.
Swisher writes that the deal would be non-exclusive, so ultimately both Google and Microsoft could have access to the same data — as long as they would be willing to pay up. That’s very likely, considering that both companies want to limit any advantage the other has in the search market. Swisher says that a deal could involve a “several million dollar” payment to Twitter and also include ad revenue sharing.
What the search engines would actually get is unclear. Already, both Google and Microsoft (along with a number of real-time search engines) index Tweets. In July, Microsoft began indexing some Tweets in real-time, so that people who searched for the username of a popular Tweeter would see that person’s most recent Tweets at the top of results; that deal did not involve a monetary payment. There was also speculation earlier this summer that Google was on the verge of launching some sort of microblog search offering that would index content from Twitter as well as other microblogging sites in realtime (I’ve personally noticed that my Tweets seem to be getting indexed by Google much faster nowadays — within the hour). Presumably, having Twitter’s official stamp of approval would help.