Microsoft Corp and Google Inc have sealed separate agreements to access real-time content from Web phenomenon Twitter, intensifying their battle for a search market that Google now dominates.
Google and Microsoft's 5-month-old Bing search engine, which hopes to take on the current leader, both won access to Twitter's store of public data in real time, executives at the two companies said on Wednesday.
The long-expected deals are expected to ramp up the efficacy and lure of search results, by allowing users to scan real-time Tweets: 140-character stream-of-consciousness messages that Twitter hosts on its vastly popular website.
But Microsoft appeared to one-up its rival Google, which controls 65 percent of the search market, with a deal also to include content from social networking site Facebook, one of the Internet's most visited addresses.
Terms of the deals -- which were non-exclusive -- were not disclosed.
In the past few years, an entirely new type of data has emerged -- real-time updates like those on Twitter, said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products.
We have reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results. We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data.
Twitter, the 3-year-old Web start-up that has become an Internet sensation popularized by celebrities and government, attracts tens of millions of visitors every month.
Qi Lu, president of online services at Microsoft, said data from Twitter could provide signals about which content on the Web is most popular and most relevant to search queries.
You can use those to augment today's search experience, Lu told a San Francisco Internet conference.
AN INTERNET PHENOMENON
From Wednesday, Twitter search results will be accessible on a special section of Bing as a beta, or test product. Microsoft plans to present the most popular Tweets of the moment, while allowing Web surfers to view Twitter messages that contain links to other Web content. Microsoft will filter out spam and other extraneous data.
Conversely, Bing's Facebook deal encompasses only messages that its 300 million-plus users have flagged as viewable to the public, a practice that is relatively new and not as widespread on the social network, where users typically send messages to groups of friends.
This is one of the first times that a search engine will be differentiated through access to content. We think Bing will benefit from the right to index and display the tweets almost as soon as they are posted, JPMorgan said in a research note before Google announced its own agreement.
As searchers are looking for more and more real-time Web results, we think this partnership will help Bing to improve its user experience.
Microsoft also inked a deal this year to entwine its search efforts with Yahoo's.
Yahoo's chief technology officer, Ari Balogh, told reporters that, generally speaking, any data Microsoft's search engine has access to would also be accessible to Yahoo under the terms of their partnership.
Yahoo already has been testing the limited inclusion of Twitter messages within Yahoo search results to certain users, he added.
All content on the Web is relevant to search, Balogh said. He thought people would not want to go to three or four sites to access different types of data, such as Twitter results.
(Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric)