March 21, 2011, 8:23 PM — As Twitter hits its 5th birthday, industry analysts wonder where the company will go from here.
Twitter is one of the most popular and talked-about Internet companies out there. That's no mean feat for a company that was a fledgling business during a tough economy, and at a time when many major companies were vying for attention and online time.
At just five years old, Twitter users now send more than 140 million 140-characters-or-fewer tweets a day, which adds up to a billion Tweets every eight days, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post yesterday .
Stone also noted that while it took about 18 months to sign up the first 500,000 accounts, Twitter now adds close to 500,000 accounts every day.
If that's not enough proof Twitter has come a long way in a short time, it's increasingly clear that the micro-blogging site is far from a place where people only tweet about their favorite sandwiches or just to hear the digital sound of their own voices.
Just over a week ago, Twitter became a lifeline during the recent natural disasters that rocked Japan . It served the same function during the massive earth quakes in Chili as well as Haiti last year .
The site also acted as a key communication tool during the 2009 government crackdown on protestors in Iran , as well as when a U.S. Airways plane made an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River.
"In terms of visibility and impact, Twitter has been very impressive," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "It's been tied to revolutions and elections. And it's changed the way a relatively large number of people communicate... It's a new idea: communicating one to many."
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, called Twitter's rise in the social media world "astounding."