A Fortnight After Launch Are ‘Threads’ Loosening?

Vishnu Anand

Jul 23, 2023, 12:48 PM | Updated 12:55 PM IST

Very similar to Twitter but lacking in a few critical departments, Threads started as an extension to Instagram. (Twitter vs Threads image via Twitter)
Very similar to Twitter but lacking in a few critical departments, Threads started as an extension to Instagram. (Twitter vs Threads image via Twitter)
  • Meta’s new app Threads, was touted to take on Twitter — and India has led the world in the number of downloads since launch
  • The app promises to include direct messaging features soon, but it may be too little, too late
  • Analysts report sharply falling user numbers — Can Threads come up with a compelling new feature to retain its users?
  • Threads, by Meta, the makers of Instagram and WhatsApp, became a huge rage a couple of weeks back, when it was launched with a lot of global hullabaloo as an extension of Instagram, to take on arch rivals Twitter.

    Within a week of its release, the app saw 150 million downloads worldwide, even without a launch in a big market like Europe. That means, it already had about a fifth of the weekly active user base of Twitter worldwide.

    Mobile data and analytics provider released a report on 14 July, which revealed that India led the world, accounting for 32 per cent of all Threads downloads, ahead of Brazil (22 per cent) and the US (26 per cent).

    Global download share of the Threads application.
    Global download share of the Threads application.

    But Will The Momentum Sustain?

    Twitter of course has been in the news for its sudden decision to make its famed blue tick a paid affair. One must not forget that the popularity of Twitter was mainly due to its ability to squeeze in more content on the screen of your smartphone.

    In other words, Twitter is the platform meant for those that have low attention spans — which is pretty much all of us. A few lines is all it takes to convey a message or share a piece of news on Twitter.

    Over time, marketing departments of companies of all sizes and shapes deployed dedicated resources to handle their Twitter accounts, redress complaints and queries and use the platform as a marketing channel.

    Add to this, the sheer ease of accessing content powered by a strong recommendation engine and its wide network saw it boom in popularity over the years.

    One would like to believe that it was a one-of-its-kind platform, one that cannot be replicated.

    The folks at Meta thought otherwise.

    Instagram revolutionised and democratised visual and video content, giving rise to a new breed of content creators aka the influencers. It zoomed ahead in India when Tik Tok was banned.

    Instagram Reels quickly took over as the country’s most popular short video platform. But Meta decided it wanted a piece of the Twitter pie too. Hence, the birth of Threads.

    Very similar to Twitter but lacking in a few critical departments, Threads started as an extension to Instagram, with the hope of capitalising on its huge community of content creators and global reach, and pushing them towards short text messaging. But it missed a crucial part of the puzzle — news.

    Twitter today is one of the most credible sources of news in real-time, but Threads does not encourage or promote news, making it a plain vanilla text social media platform where you can put forward your view, and people in your circle can respond to it.

    According to SensorTower, in just 10 days after its launch, Threads was said to have lost a half of its user base. Threads started with around 49 million daily active users (DAU). Today, this stands at 23 million DAUs.

    Experts believe that Twitter’s ability to allow anonymous accounts is a huge plus compared to Threads. Also, Threads allows you to interact only within your network, with very limited ability to reshare content. It is also far from becoming a corporate channel.

    Threads lacks some of the features of Twitter, such as subject search and the ability to thread messages, but  these are early days. On the other hand it allows 500 character messages, to Twitter’s 280 characters and allows five-minute video, where Twitter limits them to two minutes and 20 seconds.

    Maybe the folks at Meta are thinking that adding a direct message option to Threads will bring back its popularity. But will that be too little, too late

    Has Threads got its stitches right or is it unravelling too soon?

    Analysts like Sensor Tower agree, while Threads was a huge hit at first, it still needs something unique that its competitors don't have, to remain relevant and hang on to its users. Let’s wait and see.

    Vishnu Anand is a writer and journalist who dabbles in technology, sports and lifestyle. His columns have appeared in 'The Hindu', 'Deccan Chronicle' and 'Mid-day'. He is also a social worker and an evangelist of truth.

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