Andrew Keen: An Apple-owned Twitter bird would be a cat among the pigeons

New Media

The killer song this spring in Silicon Valley has been the real-time chirruping of the little Twitter bird. First Twitter, the micro-messaging network founded by Biz Stone (@ev), Jack Dorsey (@jack) and Ev Williams (@ev) in March 2006, grew its user base by over 1000% between the Spring of 2008 and 2009 – making it by far the fastest growing social network on the Internet. Then Oprah noisily opened a Twitter account (@oprah) and acquired 900,000 followers in less than a month.

Then Facebook, with its 150 million users, tried in its latest incantation to reinvent itself as a real-time Twitter service. Finally, in a mid April nail-biting race to the million follower mark, Hollywood actor and model Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) narrowly beat out CNN (@cnnbrk) by 1,200 followers.

So it's no shock that some of the big cats are now trying to get their greedy mitts on that little tweetie bird. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, even The New York Times are all rumoured to be interested in acquiring the venture capital backed, San Francisco based company. The supposed price has been inflating as quickly as the number of Twitter users: $200 million, $500 million even $1 billion – not exactly small change for a start-up without any revenue or even a business model. Then last week, @ev appeared on ABC's The View television show and cheekily told host Barbara Walters that Twitter wasn't for sale. Clearly something is up.

What would you get if you bought Twitter? According to the now immortal words of Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, you'd be buying a "poor-man's email system" – which is how he described Twitter at a Morgan Stanley technology conference earlier this spring. So why is Google supposedly so keen on buying Twitter? The answer, naturally, is search. Many Silicon Valley pundits believe that the next big thing will be real-time search and that Twitter houses a phenomenally rich informational seam that could rapidly make the Google search engine seem out-of-date. But while Google obviously needs Twitter, it's less clear if Twitter needs Google. Last year, Twitter acquired Summize, a search engine of its own which could enable it to become Google 2.0 without having to answer to Schmidt.

Apple, the most insurrectionary of Silicon Valley companies, has been linked to a Twitter acquisition by the normally accurate technology blog Techcrunch. Why would Apple want Twitter? Because, I suspect, locking Twitter into their iTunes store and iPhone network would provide valuable individual brands like @oprah and @aplusk with a very effective marketing and sales platform to distribute their products. The Twitter-Apple cat then would be truly amongst the old media pigeons. Merging the revolutionary Twitter into insurrectionary Apple would be one more nail – perhaps the final nail -- in the coffin of traditional record labels, publishers and television and movie networks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?