Could the odd confluence of a US Airways jet crash-landing in the Hudson River and Barack Obama's presidential inauguration finally push Twitter over the top and into the broad mainstream consciousness?
That could be the case, according to statistics released Tuesday by Hitwise, an Internet analysis firm.
Hitwise reported that as of Tuesday, Twitter, the popular microblogging service, had for the first time surpassed the market share of visits of the hit content aggregation site, Digg.
According to Hitwise, Twitter now stands at number 84 in its Computers and Internet category, one space up the chart from Digg.
A glance at a chart tracking the share of both services reveals that Twitter has been slowly, but steadily, gaining on Digg over the last few months, finally matching--and even passing--Digg last week. Hitwise said that as of the end of last week, Twitter was netting 0.021 percent of traffic in its Computers and Internets category, just a touch up from Digg's own 0.021 percent.
Perhaps a driver that allowed Twitter to overtake Digg was the tremendous interest last week in Twitter users' reports of the US Airways crash in the Hudson. One photograph of the plane, posted to TwitPic.com, a service that allows mobile Twitter users to append photos to their tweets, was viewed so many times that it took TwitPic's servers down for a while.
Hitwise noted that the general rise of social media has fueled Twitter's recent success, with many users of the site coming from services like Facebook, or MySpace, whereas Digg's traffic comes in large part--38.8 percent last week--from Google.
But in another report issued recently, Digg still far outweighs Twitter when it comes to total users, according to Compete, a site analytics service. Compete reported that Digg had 34.4 million users as of December, while Twitter lagged far behind at 4.4 million.