Why would Google buy the Twitter open source project?

Twitter is a bridge between the laptop Web and the handheld Web. It's SMS messaging you can view on a browser.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Why would Google spend over $250 million for Twitter, an open source project written in Rails?

This question is leaving many of my friends here at ZDNet scratching their heads. Not the best move, says Sam Diaz at Between the Lines. Un-monetizable, adds Larry Dignan.

It must be about search. Or keeping Twitter out of the hands of Microsoft.

Over the weekend, when I couldn't think of an open source angle for this story (not Starling, not its open source development assumption, not its APIWiki), I hit upon the answer.

Twitter is a bridge between the laptop Web and the handheld Web. It's SMS messaging you can view on a browser.

All the little birdies going tweet, tweet, tweet over the President's economics speech a few weeks ago were doing so on handheld devices. When you ask celebrities about their Twittering obsessions, it comes down to connecting through their hands.

What this means is you can do more than plug AdSense onto the main Twitter page. All the SMS business models of the last decade suddenly become available to you.

We're talking Premium SMS, baby. Don't think you can get Web users to pay for delivering short messages they can send for free? What about valuable prizes?

In my personal blog post I offered some other services that could be built on the SMS platform. Point is there are already a ton of them. Twitter can connect this business model, and these revenue streams, to the Web and then, as it grows, add all the models developed for MMS messaging as well.

Add the fact that Google's cloud can deliver Twitter services more reliably, at lower cost than their present system, and the deal makes perfect sense. The only question becomes price.

That's where Google's stock comes into play. It's down 17% from a year ago, but that currency has held up well against Microsoft (down 31%) and Yahoo (down 55%), so it offers Twitter more upside.

Certainly a bad deal can be done here. Google may feel obliged to overpay, and its execution may prove poor. The best part of this story may be the fact we're talking about anyone buying anyone at all -- it's been months since we've seen anything but fire sales.

So the worst thing that can happen here is that someone might get rich.

Editorial standards