According to Fast Company, two researchers at HP Labs have conducted a fascinating new study that shows how Twitter use can predict a new movie's success at the box office. In fact, they find that Twitter performs slightly better as a predictor than the Hollywood Stock Exchange (a prediction market for movies). I'm not surprised by this finding, given that Twitter essentially serves as a tool for collecting the "wisdom of crowds" - and it has a much bigger pool of information providers than the Hollywood Stock Exchange.
Many companies already use Twitter to try to market new products. Now they have to also ask themselves: Can they use Twitter to judge the success of new product introductions in the early stages? Unlike movies, new product introductions are not just about the first few weeks after release. In the film business, a movie usually either becomes a hit during those first two weekends, or it does not. Movies rarely become hits weeks after their initial release. Moreover, a film's life at the box office is usually fairly short, even if it is a hit.
Most products have longer shelf lives than movies, and they don't peak in sales during the first two weeks. Thus, most companies have time to adjust if a new product launch does not go well in the early going. Twitter, then, can become a critical tool for learning and improvement during the very early stages of a new product launch, which of course includes the days leading up to the actual release as well as the first few weeks on the shelves.