Twitter Brings Users Together in Real Time for Iran Election, MJ - Page 2

But Stone also subtly linked to a Reuters story reporting that the U.S. State Department asked the social networking service to remain running while users all over the world posted their feelings about the Iranian elections.

Though Stone, who did not respond to e-mail requests for comment for this story, claimed the State Department did not have "access to our decision making process," the writing was on the wall, and would certainly continue on Twitter.

This was bigger than a famous high-tech blogger grousing about an outage to one of the many Web services he is privileged to use and review. This was Uncle Sam telling Twitter it was "an important form of communication." This was legitimization on the scale enjoyed by Google or Facebook, Web service rivals that must grudgingly share some of their eyeballs with Twitter.

Twitter, which comScore claimed logged 37.3 million visitors in May, has arrived as a crucial force for real-time communications.

Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li told eWEEK Twitter has two major things going for it: "It's so powerful and it's so easy to broadcast." Moreover, Li said Twitter's popularity is forcing rivals social networks to offer more real-time services to compete with Twitter.

For example, Facebook this month made it easier for users to publish status updates. Li finds conversations can continue better outside of Twitter; she posts all of her tweets from Twitter into her Facebook account. Also, a slew of search startups such as Collecta, OneRiot and Topsy have entered the space, looking to capitalize on real-time communications.

"The audience is there on Twitter, but I think there will be many, many ways to be able to put out real-time status updates across multiple platforms. I can't imagine that there would only be one," Li said.

Ironically, she said Twitter's frequent downtime issues will open the door for secondary and tertiary players to swoop in for Twitter's traffic. In the land of real time, downtime, whether planned or accidental, is synonymous with failure. Facebook and the other players remain ready for the eyeballs.