back to article Is Twitter actually making money?

It's a question that has consumed the Silicon Valley pundit brigade for several months now: How will Twitter make its money? And the answer may be just under their noses. Twitter is a way of bombarding the world with an endless stream of self-serving mini-messages. According to the click mavens at Hitwise, it's now the 84th …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grand Prize Draw

    Big prize to the first person who can explain the raison d'etre of Twiiter. IM via MSN etc. seems positively intellectual by comparison.

    'Oh hai ! Im just scratching me bollox and wondering about a particularly angry looking spot on the left one'

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    A service entirely predicated on the notion that anyone gives a sugar coated FUCK what you are doing every hour of the day. "going for a dump"..." wondering why cats like fish" etc etc et bloody cetera. Nobody with a life would use Twatter. It's dire. The very worst kind of inane, pathetic drivel that the web makes accessible to friendless morons.

  3. James R Curry


    Twitter is ghasty, just ghastly to begin with. Others have explained with ample eloquence just what's wrong with this service. The idea that people will pay, PAY 15 cents to send and receive such drivel is utterly staggering.

    What a complete rip-off.

  4. Goblin
    Thumb Up


    Such eloquence. It's rare to witness literary genius like this on El Reg. Accept my compliments Sir.

    BTW, I agree with every word you said.

  5. Jim

    AAAHAAA! I see.

    In Canada, SOME of the bastard telcos recently started charging you to RECEIVE text messages. I know, utterly disgusting idea if you're from somewhere like the UK (as I am). However, the bend-over and take it Canadian consumers allow themselves to get the proverbial big-one from the likes of Bell. Bell are one of the bastards that charge people to receive... So, now, if you are stupid enough to have a Bell 'cell' AND sign up to twitters SMS inanity, it is a licence to print money. Some monkey gibbers on about getting a new KFC flyer 14 times and they just mugged you for $3.50 in ill-gotten-gains to be distributed between the gang (bell and twitter) as they see fit. Canada has amazing telecommunications problems. V expensive. V poor service. Virtual cartel of a v few major comps. They are turning the web into cable TV and anticompetitive practices keep prices/choice and quality of service for internet and mobile telecoms (and Cable TV) unbelievably expensive/poor compared to the real developed world imo. Canada is way backwards in areas like telecoms. Sometimes a bad thing - in the case of competition in telcos and consumer value. Or the fact that there are no trains (or they cost more than planes). Sometimes a good thing - they haven't yet concreted everything. They're not working on it either, unless there's oil/minerals in that direction. In which case they'll TOTALLY scRAPE THE SHale OUT OF THE WHOLE PLACE to get to it!

  6. Pat

    *used to be useful*

    was an ace way to coordinate with mates at eg glastonbury. but no sms=no point.

    sadly the massed twats have broken a useful thing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Terminate the Twitterers!

    I think it's time to start a movement......every Twitterer I've known in real life has been a complete time waster at work. They may focus on "productivity" but instead spend all their time chattering. In these glum economic times what better way to trim the rolls?

    "Do you Twitter"

    "Yes, I just posted my...."

    "Here's your pink slip."

    I like the idea of the Twit-O-Tron........I can't wait for the competing Twit-O-Matic, and then the battle of chatter will never cease.....

  8. Dave

    It doesn't like '$$$' as a title

    I used Twitter when it was free to receive the updates in the UK. I had a decent outgoing text plan that I thought would cover that side of things, until I realised that T-Mobile charges international rates to text that prefix because it's allocated to the Isle of Man. I'm still not sure that's legal, hiding an international charge band inside the 07 prefix range. However, I just used the browser on my phone to send messages for free, having a decent data plan, so all was well.

    Now I can't receive the incoming stuff in real time it's lost any real usefulness so I rarely use it. It was fun while it was free, but it's not something I consider worth paying for so I stopped.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But it's not all like that

    People attack twitter for being full of "I'm brushing my teeth" posts and a lot of it is like that, but it actually does have uses. There are a few software projects for example where the developers are posting what they are thinking about or what they are working on at the moment and its good to subscribe to that. I'm not interested in what people had for their breakfast but I am interested in notifications of a new feature being developed for some software I' interested in.

    If you ignore the 99% that is useless by not subscribing to it, the remaining 1% is interesting and useful (and you can just ignore the stuff you don't like)

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Erik Aamot

    @ Told Ya So.....

    Working on the bot and "Twitter Millionare" automated money making system right now

    domain purchaced .. account made on webserver ..

    looking for pics of some cool looking guy sitting on the hood of a ZR1 Vette

  12. Charlie


    "... its 140-character "Tweets" aren't conducive to advertising"

    Perhaps I'm just being thick, but I don't get this. I can understand why twatterers might revolt about the idea of being sent adverts, but how does the character limit have anything to do with it? You can fit a massive advert in a 140 character space:









  13. Anonymous Coward

    What? Why? How?

    As it says on Twitter homepage, What? I haven't got a clue and don't see the point. Why? why indeed. How? I really don't give a shit.

  14. Jeremy
    Paris Hilton

    Why can't they make money?

    Idea 1: Charge the heaviest users a moderate subscription fee.

    Idea 2: Charge corporate users a heavy subscription fee.

    Idea 3: Serve 'targeted ads' at the heaviest users.

    Stupid hippy company wants everything to be free to use, even for the likes of Google and yet still wants to make money. What a load of Twits.

    Paris because even she could see ways to charge some of the users.

  15. Bod

    For you twitter naysayers

    The real money is in the businesses that can effectively advertise on twitter.

    Twitter may have started out as a means for people to post inane rubbish about what they had for breakfast but recently a lot of companies, the entertainment industry, and even public authorities, have realised it's a good way to keep people informed. All you have to do is be on twitter and "follow" them. It's like RSS in that way, except the 'tweets' are more than just official press releases.

    Hell, even the government is twittering now, with stuff from No.10, and I suspect some MPs too.

    Twitter has already contemplated charging companies, rich people and public entities for broadcasting on twitter, but there's a problem there in that if they do that, they'll simply stop using twitter.

    Anyway, don't knock twitter until you've tried it. It's more useful than you think. But if all you're going to do is add your friends or any old random crazy teen, then yeah, twitter is exactly as you predict. Used usefully and you don't even need to 'tweet' yourself, just follow people.

  16. Stuart Gibson

    It is what you make it

    Meh, I'm going out on a limb here and assuming I'm the only Reg reader in the world that actually likes Twitter and will answer why it's useful for me.

    If the only people you follow are the "I'm eating breakfast", I'm talking a crap" crowd then of course it's going to be useless and it's your fault for following such boring people. If, however, you follow people with the same interests and who are, more importantly, local, you are making contacts with real people you have a chance of meeting and who you might like.

    Since I stopped following the "Twitter Elite" and started almost exclusively following people who live within 25 miles of myself I have made several good AFK friends, been to a number of excellent dinners, hooked up with like minded developers (first apps will be going to the iTunes app store soon) and taken on half a dozen well paying contracts from people I met through Twitter. I've been in town and found myself with half an hour to kill and posted "I'm at ***, anyone want to grab a coffee?" and within 10 minutes been sitting with 3-4 people having a chat. None of these would have happened without Twitter.

    Maybe it's peculiar to my particular area, but most geek social events, meet-ups and even conferences are organised almost exclusively through Twitter. Twitter is only as good or useful as you make it. Complaining that it's all self-serving irrelevance is like condemning business network events if all you do is stand in a corner listening to some dumb sales rep tell you for two hours about this chick he fucked.

  17. Jared Earle
    Thumb Down

    Ah, tasty bitterness.

    So you don't get Twitter? It's just broad spectrum IRC.

    I know this is El Reg and therefore the comments are fortified with extra bitterness, but I'm amazed by the negativity over Twitter. It's opt-in; it's not like anyone will be forcing you to use it.


  18. Anthony Bathgate

    Twitter is useful... Sometimes.

    I have a twitter account. I don't post to it. I have updates from one other account forwarded to my cell phone.

    That account belongs to a security convention. Pre-convention, I get maybe 1 text a month about the organizational status of things. Nice to know. During the convention, it's a lot noisier. Schedule changes, event notifications, word on where to get booze, etc. are all VERY IMPORTANT THINGS that I absolutely must have.

    And since I'm a Verizon customer with an unlimited text plan (why the fuck wouldn't you? It's only $10 extra)

    This kind of stuff is where this retarded service actually makes sense... Not fucking "microblogging". It's a god damned message broadcast service.

  19. Simon Buttress

    Twitter - really, what's the point

    Title says it all as far as I'm concerned.

    On a tangent somewhat. I'd also like to place on record my loathing of that Audi advert on TV that has that "take you riding in the car car" song on it. Makes me want to brick the TV but if I did that then no Xbox so I have to refrain.

    Oh yeah, that bloody Muller advert has come one resistance to bricking the TV is shrinking rapidly.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    All you Twitter-snobs remind of people who used to go "oh look at him, Mr Important" whenever someone pulled a cellphone out.

    If you don't use it, then you don't know shit about it, so shut it, alright.

  21. John

    Why the rage?

    I'm always amused by the rage against Twitter here on El Reg. Sure, some content is undoubtedly peurile and pointless - but the same could be said of many (most?) blogs, websites, IM, email etc.

    However, if you follow interesting, sane people, Twitter can actually be useful (as useful as any other communciations technology, anyway). You can even get educational info this way - there are robot feeds that send info like when asteroids pass the Earth and how far away. Sure, it's not world-shattering, but it's genuinely interesting.

  22. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Simon Buttress

    I totally agree. I would personally take great delight in getting all the Advertising / Marketing types at Audi together and boiling the lot of 'em in oil*.

    Also, I don't think Cadburys are thinking of ending their stream of award-winning** annoying drivel any time soon, so I'd start saving for that new TV now if I were you.

    *I reckon a good 5w/40 semi-synthetic for ironic effect here.

    **Those advertising award types are also up for it if I ever get my paws on a big enough deep-fryer.

  23. DutchOven
    Thumb Down

    RE: Twitter is useful sometimes

    Anthony Bathgate wrote: "[The] account belongs to a security convention. Pre-convention, I get maybe 1 text a month about the organizational status of things. Nice to know. During the convention, it's a lot noisier. Schedule changes, event notifications, word on where to get booze, etc. are all VERY IMPORTANT THINGS that I absolutely must have."

    Yep and before Twitter was invented, conventions were just a dream. No-one had organised one because it was too difficult.

    If I needed to update a group of people with conference times, I would have asked them to bookmark an RSS. That way they don't need to register to any site, aren't limited to 140 characters, don't have yet another username/password to remember but can still access the information whenever they like...

    What's more, you could also send out a complete revised timetable every morning of the conference. Try doing that with 140 characters!

    Of course, things like where to get booze could be added as foornotes or comments to your RSS. With Twitter they get equal status. Not really the sort of thing for impressing the boss!

  24. Lionel Baden

    i feel outmoded

    Twitter !!!!! I dont even like texting

    mainly because its normally cheaper and more constructive to call !

    And i h8 txt spch it sux

    if i must write a text i will write properly !

  25. Cameron Colley

    RE: *used to be useful*

    So, how did you pay for it?

    It just sounds like Twitter's free lunch is over to me.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ anon 'twatter'

    I agree, I have also been calling Twitter Twatter for a while now as well (I suppose it isn't a hard name to derive from it...), along with a few friends who also realise its pointlessness.

    Twitter is in many ways the embodiment of 'Web 2.0' - an endless trickle of irrelevant, self-indulgent bullshit which does nothing but soak up money of businesses naive enough to invest in the vague hope it will turn out to be profitable.

    As for how it can make money, the answer is simple - unless it starts charging users, it can't.

  27. Jon

    @ dutchoven

    5 years ago Suppose I think exactly the same of newfangled RSS

    Yep and before RSS was invented, conventions were just a dream. No-one had organised one because it was too difficult.

    If I needed to update a group of people with conference times, I would have * asked them to look at a notice board in the lobby. That way they don't need to turn on anything, aren't limited to areas of web access, don't have yet another RSS feed url to remember but can still access the information where they need it.

    Different people prefer different methods.

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