I don’t know whether Twitter usage is increasing – though I definitely don’t believe that it’s growing at the rate that Elon Musk has repeatedly claimed. And I don’t know whether Meta’s soon-to-be-released Twitter competitor app will gain traction, though I do know that it’s already failed once with basically the same idea.
But this does look set to be the next big social media battleground, both literally and figuratively, as Meta seeks to capitalize on user unrest as a result of Musk’s changes at Twitter, with the launch of its new P92/Barcelona/Threads app coming very soon, according to latest reports and insight.
As per Heath:
“The new, text-based app, dubbed Project 92 internally, and potentially Threads externally, is currently planned to come out in mid-July, according to people familiar with the plan. The app is going to be promoted inside Instagram, giving it a massive source of distribution on day one, and people will be able to auto-fill it with their Instagram account info to quickly get started.”
Heath further notes that Meta’s hoping to reach ‘tens of millions’ of users within the first few months of the app becoming available to the public.
Which could pose a significant threat to Twitter, which itself currently serves around 250 million active users. Though that figure is speculative. Before purchasing Twitter, and in an effort to wriggle out of his $44 billion takeover offer, Elon Musk claimed that around 20% of Twitter profiles were actually bots, and that Twitter was inflating its actual user stats in order to appease market analysts. Yet, as soon as he took ownership of the app, Elon seemed to forget about all of this entirely, and Twitter suddenly added many millions more totally human users.
But that does seem pretty convenient, and if Musk’s bot estimates were correct, pretty astounding, in terms of growth. At a 20% reduction in Twitter’s mDAU count, that would mean that Twitter had around 190 million actual human daily active users when Musk took over at the app. It now, according to its own reporting, has 250m actives – so Twitter, if these numbers are to be believed, has added 60 million users over the last six months.
That’s about three times Twitter’s previous fastest growth rate, which would be an amazing growth story, but as noted, one that I’d be a little skeptical about, given the surrounding discussion.
Yet even taking Twitter at its word, Instagram could still pose a real threat.
If Instagram, which reportedly has over 1.3 billion actives, can push 100 million or so of its users to this new text app, that could give it critical growth momentum, which could make it a real challenger to Twitter’s position as the leader in real-time news discussion.
Twitter’s already seemingly losing some ground on this front, due to various changes in the app. Twitter’s decision to promote paying users over others has reduced its real-time relevance, at least to some degree, while as one journalist also recently noted, the Twitter @handle is no longer the key calling card for many media members.
Which makes sense, as Elon Musk himself has repeatedly criticized ‘legacy’ media, and painted the majority of journalists as corrupt. You can see then why many would be less comfortable sharing their perspectives in the app, and it’s this element that’s opened the door for Meta to launch its P92 project – though I remain unconvinced that it’ll go with ‘Threads’ as the app name, given that it already launched a separate messaging app called Threads back in 2019, which it then shut down less than two years later.
Whatever name it chooses to go with, there does seem to be an opportunity for the app, a gap for it to move into and fill, as an alternative real-time update stream, along similar lines to Twitter’s UI.
And it could indeed be the cause of a real-life battle as well, with Elon Musk and Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg seemingly agreeing to a cage match sparked by barbs about Meta’s new challenger app.
UFC boss Dana White says that he’s spoken to both Musk and Zuck about a possible bout, potentially to be held in Las Vegas. Zuckerberg has been competing in jiu-jitsu tournaments of late, while Elon claims to be trained in judo, Kyokushin and ‘no rules streetfighting’, whatever that means.
It seems ridiculous that this is where we’re at in terms of social business discussion, but as noted, the next battleground for social media apps is coming, and an actual real-life bout could be just the undercard for the bigger coming conflict.