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Real-time updates open frontier for websites

13 апреля 2009

Online social networking services are attracting millions of new users seeking faster “real-time” functionality – in a trend that is leaving established players, such as Google and Microsoft, behind.

Leading social media sites Facebook, which passed 200m active users last week, Twitter and FriendFeed have all begun promoting features that enable instantaneous interaction between users. They are being aided by the increasing capabilities and internet connectivity of mobile devices that allow users to post photos and random thoughts to the web.

“Real-time content and data are almost becoming the new TV,” said Charlene Li, social media analyst with the Altimeter Group. “Instead of watching pre-programmed TV, you’re watching the activity of the world go by and, in particular, that of the friends you find interesting. It’s mesmerising and addictive.”

FriendFeed became the first truly real-time social media service with the launch of a new version of its “lifestreaming” service a week ago. Messages posted by users and comments from friends now pop up “live” on the web page, without it needing to be refreshed.

The effect is a stream of news and comment that has divided viewer opinion – with some hailing the start of a new web revolution and others left nauseous by the scrolling screens of comment.

“We’re seeing a new Beatles emerging in this new morning of creativity, a series of devices and software constructs that empower us with both the personal meaning of our lives and the intuitive combinations of serendipity,” said well-known blogger Steve Gillmor.

“Who’s supplying the barf bags?” asked another.

The popularity of Tweetdeck – desktop software for Twitter that shows messages updating – and Facebook’s introduction of commenting on status updates, ahead of a move to real-time updating, are also part of the trend.

“It is clear that everyone is catching on to the value of real time and is figuring out how best to integrate it,” says Paul Buchheit, FriendFeed co-founder.

However, the big players have been slow to catch on. “Google has the big-company problem: they just don’t get why this is important yet,” says Robert Scoble, a technology evangelist.

Google and Microsoft are both reported to have been in talks with Twitter on possible search and advertising partnerships.


Источник: Financial Times

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