I never really bought into the idea that Twitter would eventually have to start taking advertising or charge users directly. Charging individual users would certainly drive many people away, this hoax announcement notwithstanding. Unless done extremely carefully, so would advertising in the way most web sites do it. More people access Twitter using third party client software like Twhirl or Tweetdeck than go to the Twitter.com site anyway, so conventional advertising potential is limited.
Twitter must avoid doing anything that could reduce the number of people who use it or how often they tweet. Twitter’s real value is in the volume. Millions of people make around 6 million tweets per day, by one count, turning Twitter into a world-wide, real time twitching, tweeting sensing system. If you want to know what people are saying about your product, your candidate, your television show or your research report, then Twitter is the place to look. Companies would be willing to pay much more for better access to this content than a more functional client or some ads. There is much more value to be made by analyzing and feeding real time feedback. Twitter has already experimented with this model by working with the Current cable television channel to feed real time election Tweets during the US presidential election. They could easily take this much further. I think this is the kind of thing that Biz Stone is talking about when talks about opportunities in providing better services to businesses.