New or improved social media and web-based services are starting to surface, reflecting a major shift unfolding that underscores how people and companies are choosing to share, listen, watch, respond, interact and engage with other individuals in real-time conversations, as they are happening, with zero latency or delays. Take Facebook, for example; unable to acquire Twitter’s real-time, massive communication platform, it took a page from Twitter and overhauled its user status section, replacing it with a live newsfeed right down to mimicking Twitter’s 140 characters and status query. Consumers, startups, large businesses, civil services and, yes, politicians and celebrities alike have tuned into the popular Twitter microblogging service that enables them to telegraph personal or corporate messages, breaking news, emergency broadcasts, service interruptions or promote new blog posts, perspectives, photos, videos, etc. — all in real-time.
The Twitter phenomenon is growing at breakneck speed, reaching nearly 10 million users in February 2009, up more than 700% from a year ago. Twitter’s runaway growth points to people’s behavior and preference to proactively communicate with others in real-time. FriendFeed most recently rolled out a major new UI and service enhancement, overhauling their static users’ comments to emulate Twitter’s real-time updates. Clearly, it’s just a matter of time for other sites (ie: MySpace, LinkedIn, Yelp) to recognize this shift and meet users’ preferences for real-time information — not static data. The arrival of the real-time web will impact a host of players in the businesses of information. Net/net: the real-time web has arrived so strap in your seat belts for an interesting ride that is about to take off.