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Search box starts popping up on Twitter

Not everyone is getting the new feature yet, but the microblogging service has begun to display search and trends in its homepage toolbar.

Twitter, screengrab by ReadWriteWeb

The industry buzz is that searchability is one of Twitter's killer features, and indeed, it looks like the microblogging service is starting to put it more front and center. Some Twitter users have reported that the toolbar in the right-hand corner of Twitter.com is now displaying a search box and access to a list of "trends"--fast-rising terms and topics that members are chatting about. It looks like the company is either testing it out or doing the gradual rollout thing.

I unfortunately don't have access to it yet, so I can't take a direct screen grab or test things out for myself, but some lucky blogger over at ReadWriteWeb has the magic search features enabled already and took a screenshot.

Twitter's focus on search started when the company acquired Summize, a search tool built using Twitter's developer API (application programming interface) and turned it into the Twitter Search feature.

What's interesting is that Twitter may also have another motive: driving homepage traffic. Many prolific Twitterers choose to use third-party applications like Twitterific, TweetDeck, and Twhirl to access the service. That's led to occasional ambiguity regarding Twitter's traffic and usage, because traditional Web statistics don't take that into account.

If Twitter, which still hasn't unveiled its shadowy business model, were to start rolling out advertisements, it'd be to the company's advantage to give members more reason to actually use the Twitter.com site. Making it more feature-intensive is an obvious option.

That said, all indications we've seen have pointed to a non-advertising business model for Twitter--especially given the downturn in ad revenues stemming from the current bleak market conditions. More likely, it'll offer some sort of paid plan for corporations that want to capitalize on the buzzworthy service in one way or another.

This post was updated at 10:55 a.m. PT.