When Twitter first came out, there were a lot of skeptics. No one was quite sure what to do with it. Nevertheless, five years later, it's still here and continuing to grow.
The San Francisco-based start-up first launched on July 15, 2006, and it was initially self-dubbed as "Twttr." (Thank goodness that Twitter execs abandoned the whole Web 2.0 trend of dropping vowels from the brand name to seem cool.)
It didn't really gain in popularity on the way to what we see today until about two years later. But now look at it. Everyone who is anyone is on Twitter these days. It's not just some random site where Ashton Kutcher posts 140-character messages about nothing. (Well, it still is, but it's a bit more than that now.) To grasp just how big Twitter has gotten, check out the following stats from The Next Web:
While it took Twitter more than 16 months to reach the first 600,000 Twitter accounts. Yesterday, Twitter saw the same number--more than 600,000 sign-ups in just one day.
Additionally, rebuffing Google's boasting about 1 billion items being published to Google+ in a day, Twitter touted that it sees 350 billion tweets posted each day. Now, to be fair, Google+ has only been up for a couple weeks and is still in invite-only mode, whereas anyone can sign up for as many Twitter accounts as they want. I bet we can expect to see comparable numbers from Google within the year.
However, one of the questions hanging in the minds of most tech followers for a considerable time: how will this thing make any money?
By implementing advertising and sponsored Tweets, Twitter finally a found a way to actually be worth something beyond an alternative messaging service and become a major player in the tech world. Although it hasn't gone public yet, and likely won't for the immediate future, it's gotten to the point where Twitter's estimated value is $7 billion. It's also doing its best to consolidate its empire by eliminating support for third-party platform clients, buying out some of the better ones (see: TweetDeck), and it has surpassed 1 million registered applications for gaming, analytics and more.
When the president of the United States hosts a town hall event solely on Twitter, you know something is big. As much as many tech insiders might argue that Google+ (or whatever else comes along next) are Twitter-killers, it's almost laughable.
Of course, Twitter could look drastically different five years from now. Yet, for the moment, Twitter isn't going anywhere but up.