Google’s Schmidt: Twitter is poor man’s email

March 3, 2009

Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks Twitter’s success is wonderful, but he’s not particularly impressed with the product’s usefulness.***

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In fact, Schmidt deems Twitter and products of its ilk “poor man’s email systems,’ as he told the crowd at the Morgan Stanley Technology conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

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Twitter’s text-based messaging service, which limits messages to 140 characters, can’t compare to all the features and storage capabilities of a full-fledged email product, Schmidt said.

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What’s more, he noted, Google already has a very successful instant messaging product.

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If Schmidt’s comments seem somewhat dismissive of Twitter, which has garnered more than 6 million users since it was launched a few years ago according to some media reports, they are also noteworthy for failing to address the actual question, which wasn’t about Twitter’s messaging capabilities, but about Twitter’s real-time search.

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Real-time search allows someone to cull the morass of Twitter messages and get a sense of what the world is saying about a particular topic that very moment. That’s the kind of feature that observers say could become particularly valuable to advertisers and corporations going forward, and could potentially represent a threat to Google’s search dominance.

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Asked about Schmidt’s comments, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone replied in an email message that Twitter has some similarities to email products, but is really for discovering and sharing what is happening right now.

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“We think it’s important to introduce the power of a real-time network to even the weakest of signals around the world—as Twitter grows, we realize it’s not about the triumph of technology, it’s about the triumph of humanity,” said Stone.

12 comments

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Well then, I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t use Twitter for either email or instant messaging. Mr. Schmidt seems to be at a loss for it’s real use. Plus, while Google’s search is definitely great for finding websites, it does very little for finding out what people are saying about a specific company or organization at that very moment. Maybe I’ll send him an email or an IM and explain that.

As a Google SEO, I am extremely fond of Google search and Google PPC (Adwords). However twitter is better for many searches that require human input – “I can ask a question like where in Singapore airport terminal can I find a power plug for my notebook”. With ridicoulous competition on PPC, searching on twitter is faster and more cost effective on twitter. With time I can see some of the reasons people use Google for today, move to twitter. I wouldn’t have said this a year agohttp://twitter.com/seo_joe

Using twitter as a search tool seems fine, for now, but I have concerns about the increasingly minimal amount of words that people has become a habit when many people communicate with each other.I wonder how many people still use email to compose a real “letter”, or know how to express themselves in more than 100 characters.Certainly, there is a place for applications like Twitter, and sites like Facebook. I just hope that people are not forgetting the power of hearing their friends or loved ones voices, receiving their letters and emails, etc.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Obviously, I forgot to edit the above, but…at least I was not saying-”I think that’s really cool man-GO TWITTER”! :)

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

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Dee, are you really concerned that communication is becoming TOO efficient? Today’s corporate challenge is information overload.

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Google the Best!Thanks for the post!

He totally misses the point of twitter. Is neither an attempt to be an email system or an instant messenger service. Its totally different. I have email and IM like most folks and twitter serves a totally different purpose.Sounds like he’s scared of the success of twitter.

I want to thank the speaker and all of you for the opportunity to be here today and chat with you. It’s a real honor to have a chance to share some thoughts on the economy and on innovation, and hopefully spur some thoughts on how we all participate in restarting long term economic growth.

There’s always fear of a paradigm shift whenever anything new becomes popular…

Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks Twitter’s success is wonderful, but he’s not particularly impressed with the product’s usefulness.This is his opinion, not law!

With time I can see some of the reasons people use Google for today, move to twitter. I wouldn’t have said this a year ago

twitter features may be expanded again to a more modern and well liked in the future