The blogosphere is a buzz with Ev Williams' announcement that a Twitter redesign will arrive at desktops and mobile devices in the next couple of weeks. Earlier this month, Baidu (China's Google) launched an innovative service called the Box Computing Open Platform that may have been the model for Twitter's yet-to-unfold navigational architecture.
Kaiser KuoIn my recent post titled "Baidu Advances From Student To Search Engine Sensei," I interviewed Kaiser Kuo, Baidu's director of international communications and learned that the search engine's latest innovation was considered a game-changer by many. In its simplest form, it's a searchable applications library that allows third-party apps like games, e-Books and software to launch directly on the Baidu site when surfers are searching - avoiding visits to other Web sites and actually allowing Baidu to take a commission cut of 30 percent in several partnership ad deals.
In reviewing the proposed redesign of Twitter reported today by the NY Times, it appears that the microblogging platform might be taking a page out Baidu's new playbook. In an article titled, "At Twitter, a Web Site Is Revamped and Simplified," Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft make point that the "new" Twitter will allow users to navigate between posts and links with greater ease, without having to leave the site.
As you can see, Twitter's new approach is similar to Baidu in eliminating the 'old school' approach of clicking back and forth between the network and content. By presenting photos, videos and biographies of authors on the site, it allows Twitter the ability to control the flow of activity, and potentially open up a new advertising revenue stream.
In that same NY Times report, Ev Williams indicated that "the new site was not designed for the sake of Ev Williamsadvertisers, but the experience of viewing ads would improve." The example that was noted in the post talked about the case of a movie studio purchasing a 'sponsored tweet' for a film with a link to the trailer that will be able to viewed on Twitter without users having to navigate away from the network.
Baidu, long considered the copycat and what some have derogatorily called the 'fast follower' is clearly the leader in this regard. In questioning Kuo if he felt if this innovation would be a catalyst for others to follow suit, he said, "I think the idea of working with third party resource providers, whether it’s just structured data or actual applications, is something that others will inevitably want to do." Google, for instance "has already been providing some information directly in search results – things like weather – and I think it’s likely that other search engines will begin offering other resources directly on results pages as well," noted Kuo.
Facebook, I am sure, has plans in motion to follow suit. Social games are already widely popular on the site, but there are many updated status links on the network that allow users to navigate away from its pages. As Facebook has become the social network of choice, it's also aggressively competing with Google to gain control of 'search' in the short term and the entire Internet in the not so distant future. Baidu's model is just one stepping stone in allowing that to happen at a faster clip.