Google Realtime, the specialized search that lets users see social updates and other at-the-moment data from the web, has been shut down for the time being. The reason is apparent: Twitter, the primary contributor to Realtime, has reached the end date for its deal with Google. It’s apparent that the companies have decided not to re-up this deal, but Google has indicated that Realtime search will be back in the future.
Specifically, anyone who visits the Google Realtime site (google.com/realtime) will be redirected to standard search. Additionally, prior to June 6th, users accessing the site got a 404 message and no explanation. Both the 404 and the explanation have now been remedied. A Google statement clarified that the agreement with Twitter, which began in 2009, “expired on July 2.” Some portions of Twitter may still be available to Google, but “this special feed from Twitter” will not be.
But Realtime isn’t being retired permanently. While Google representatives were unwilling to give a date or indicate whether or not Twitter’s special feed would be re-integrated, it was made clear that Google has every intention of re-opening Realtime in the future. This future version will “include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources,” and that when it comes to Twitter Google is “open to exploring other collaborations in the future.”
More importantly to the big picture is the unanswered question of why Twitter and Google decided not to re-up their agreement, which the companies could have easily negotiated prior to the July 2nd close date. It may be that Google simply didn’t find the Realtime search investment to be worthwhile, but it’s also possible that Twitter – now threatened by the Google+ social network – isn’t inclined to continue a partnership. If the latter is the reality, other Google services – most prominently social search – may be impacted.