But that history ignores an important fact: Google gained its initial popularity through deals with larger, much more powerful partners.
By inking search distribution deals first with Netscape and later with Yahoo, Google put its brand and its search tools in front of millions of Web users. (Yes, it's true: Until early 2004, when you did a search on Yahoo, Google served up the results.) Those deals, I'd argue, rather than the inherent quality of Google's search, were responsible for the search upstart's initial success. If Google had had a bad product, it wouldn't have succeeded - but if Google hadn't gotten its good product in front of an audience, no one would have known whether it was bad or good.
Companies like Twitter will have to learn Google's real lesson quickly: Get a strategy for getting your product out to lots of people, fast. And find an answer that's more intelligent than "Put it on the Internet" or "Use viral marketing."