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Twitter could break the 500 million user mark today

By Hamish Mackay

February 22, 2012 | 3 min read

Hamish Mackay

Twitter could break the 500 million user mark today, according to media sources.

Adriaan Pelzer, of RAAK Social Media, writing in the digital bulletin, The Wall, said it had been expected that the 500 million mark would be reached sometime on Saturday - but it is now anticipated that today could be the day.

This is a big moment for Twitter and industry experts are confident that by the end of this year its total user numbers will close on 750 million giving it a billion users sometime in 2013.

In an analysis, Pelzer writes: “Two moments in the growth of Twitter stands out. Around March 2007 it had its first major spurt in registration rates when it won to great excitement the SXSW web award.

“Then, two years later, in March 2009 it had what is often called its hockey stick moment – and accelerated dramatically for a second time.

“From then the registration rate has slowly but surely accelerated even further. There are no more major surges in registration, even the Twitter integration in Apple’s millions of iOS devices have not created a clear new inflection point.

“But the ever faster trend in constantly bearing upwards is a glorious bending arch.”

Pelzer’s article is accompanied by a graph – charting the growth of Twitter.

Explaining how the graph was arrived at, Pelzer points out: “Each tweet on Twitter has a rather big collection of user data embedded in it. From your bio, to your profile background and much more. Which is why Tweets are so much bigger in data terms, than SMS.

“But for our purposes two of these data fields are of particular interest: the time a user has joined Twitter, and a numerical user identifier.

“We noticed that the user id’s always increased when time increased, and wanted to check if they are assigned one after the other, in a linear way. This means the total amount of users at the time when a user joins Twitter, is a function of the user id the user gets assigned. In other words, in its simplest form, the first user got id 1, the second user id 2, and so forth.

“We captured hundreds of thousands of Tweets as they flew by in real time. And with the Tweets we got users’ information, and plotted the user ids on one axis and the time the user joined on the other. We then compared these with a few “known points” – points where Twitter actually released their stats.

“Not only did this cross-check across all the known points, it also yielded the coefficient we had to multiply the user id with to get the total amount of subscribed users at that point (this happened to be one, by the way – in other words, the user id numbers are dished out in straight forward sequence).”


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