Some Twitter users have reported that the toolbar in the upper 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 or gradually rolling out the feature.
We don't have access to it yet, but some lucky blogger over at ReadWriteWeb has the 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 Twitter users 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 such third-party apps into account.
If Twitter, which still hasn't unveiled its business model, were to start rolling out advertisements, it would be to the company's advantage to give members more reasons to actually use the Twitter.com site. Making it more feature-intensive is an obvious option.
That said, all indications point to a non-advertising business model for Twitter -- especially given the downturn in ad revenues stemming from the current bleak market conditions. It's more likely that it'll offer some sort of paid plan for corporations that want to capitalise on the service in one way or another.