Katherine Boehret likes Twitter but takes it to task for many of the things Twitter clients like Twhirl do wonderfully; notify you of @ replies (when someone Tweets you directly using an @ sign before your name, i.e. @sarahgilbert), for instance, and complains of the tinyurl conversion issue which most Twitter old hands work around by using their own url shortening services (many of my friends built their own). She doesn't even approach the question that's on everyone's minds: How will Twitter make money?
Claire Cain Miller does approach the question, but doesn't have much of an answer. Her analysis of why Twitter turned down Facebook is brief -- it wasn't the right time, Twitter has "too much to do" yet -- and needs to learn how to make money. The one hazy concept we all agree on is that Twitter might charge businesses to talk to customers with its service; providing proactive alerts to companies when Twitterers complain about their service, giving them the opportunity to respond (and perhaps charging for consulting on how to best make use of the interaction) might be worth a lot. A few businesses now are very good at that; when I complained about my Comcast internet connectivity on Twitter, for instance, I quickly was pinged by a Comcast technician offering to help.
One particularly brilliant user of Twitter for business purposes is Rael Dornfest (who is a friend of mine, so I suppose I'm biased);
Given the funding climate of the next year, Twitter is working to develop a business plan immediately, rather than putting off the pedestrian question of 'how to make money' until 2010. I'd imagine that the ability to access a more usable archive of past Tweets (along the lines of Flickr's professional subscription) would be worth paying for; I consider much of my nearly two years of Twittering note-taking for any number of things. It would be nice to be able to tag, file and sort Tweets, a functionality that would be worth money for power users like myself. But the primary use of Twitter is to find people who fit any given profile; a stream of conscienceness commentary on the banal and enormous bits of someone's life is an extraordinarily illuminating picture, far better than responses to a survey or demographic profiles. It's one-to-one marketing made easy as you can get it just right the first time.
I'm pleased that Facebook didn't buy Twitter; Twitter still seems pure to me, unassailed by annoying applications that guilt you into giving and receiving virtual nonsensities, devoid of groups or events or the endless need to update your recent employment information. I hope it's able to maintain its individuality and utility, as I've made so many friends and found so many opportunities through Twitter; it's worth far more than Facebook stock (the value of which is, after all, entirely open to question) to me.