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Yes, Twitter will start earning some income this year.
Co-founder Biz Stone said the company is in the first phase of rolling out commercial accounts that will entice business users to pay for premium services like detailed analytics. After that, the company might move into building business-oriented application programming interfaces (APIs), creating a “commercial layer” over the social network. The commercial APIs would be out “later this year,” he said.
“Twitter will still be free for everybody and we’ll still tell them to go crazy with it,” said Stone in an interview. “But we’ve identified a selection of things that businesses say are helping to make them more profit.”
“We want to build statistics or analytics that let users know — ‘How am I doing on Twitter?’” he said.
Heck, I'd pay $20 for a 16 character id. The current limit is 15, and my business name is 16 characters.
So would I for the exact same reason. As silly as it sounds, I wonder how much money they could make charging $20 per extra character. Obviously people would buy up all the keyword rich terms, but I think you'd also get a lot of people just doing it for social/non-income related reasons.
...and having companies following me is a little odd. It'd be nice to have account types so I could disable email notifications of new followers for companies. Bad for commercial growth? Charge for it then or something.
I will never understand how you can get a team of a dozen or more people and not figure out how to monetize a website. While attending a "college" a few years ago in Orlando I attended a Meetup for Meetup with several of the founders. It blew me away how much they knew and yet couldn't figure out at the same time! In example they knew how to retain new members by reducing initial barriers. However they were absolutely dead-bent on a flat fee service. That means group A could have 20,000 that crowd a stadium every other Thursday to look at funny pictures of cats on the stadium big screen and group b with four people could get together once a month to talk about different flavors of ham and both groups would pay the exact same amount! Not a few good initiative for people strapped for cash to start a group when the site asks for money up front! MM ham....
Then again most businesses think in the same terms as their (X)HTML and CSS code is programmed, statically!
My brief time with twitter found that it was not specific enough for my needs and my time is better spent elsewhere following up real business rather than shooting in the dark ( twittering).
Next step would be to release tweetwords, in which you are allowed to put out promotional URLs, but you pay per click. Tweetwords would show in search results. Also, Twitsense would allow big twitter users to earn a commission by showing tweetwords from other publishers in their feed.