Facebook Live Stream Box may one-up Twitter

Ronny Kerr · June 25, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/90d

Live Stream Box allows real-time status feed to be loaded on any webpage

Yesterday Facebook announced on its developer blog that it would be launching a new tool for web designers called the Facebook Live Stream Box, which sounds and looks just like Twitter status feeds.

With a short and easy installation, however, Facebook's box can be embedded on just about any webpage, allowing users to publish comments in real-time alongside a live stream of whatever content the provider is displaying.

Facebook first successfully tested the tool with CNN’s live coverage of the 2009 US Presidential Inauguration, garnering over a million status updates over the course of two hours.
When looking at screenshots of the tool in action, one cannot help but notice the similarities between the Live Stream Box and Twitter feeds.

Twitter’s popularity rests on the success of its real-time updates service. Each user has their own feed, each user can follow other users’ feeds, and each user can enter particular discussions simply by using particular words or hashtags.

Yet Facebook seems to have taken the idea of a real-time discussion on live events to the next level by allowing developers to install the feeds right next to coverage of the actual event. Users will be able to comment on an important political speech, a championship basketball game, or a TV show, all without leaving the webpage.

Though some third-party developers, like Tweetizen, have taken advantage of Twitter’s open API, coding tools that essentially allow you to embed particular feeds in webpages much like the Facebook Live Stream Box, we have yet to see any hard evidence or statistics that even approach the magnitude of success that Facebook acquired in its tests during the Inauguration earlier this year.

With Facebook wandering into this new territory and potential market, we might be wise to expect Twitter to respond with its own version of the Live Stream Box.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.