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The rebranding of Twitter is the next step in Elon Musk’s plan for the company. But is there demand for it?

As part of his ongoing campaign to remake the billionaire’s long-time favorite platform in his image, Elon Musk decided over the weekend to rename Twitter by replacing the network’s famous bird logo with an X.

Musk bought Twitter at the end of last year with the intention of turning it into his “everything” app, X, where users could do anything from chat with one another to make purchases and watch videos. Earlier this year, in June, before he took control, Musk told Twitter staff that the service should aspire to be more like WeChat in China, where he claimed that the app’s regular users relied on it for nearly every aspect of their lives.

The idea for the rebranding may have originated with Musk’s conception of the original X.com in 1999, which he intended to be a comprehensive financial services platform but instead evolved into PayPal.

Despite Musk’s long-term goals, and the increased stakes since he spent $44 billion to purchase the social network, sacrificing Twitter’s reputation for a future super app is a bold move.

To compete with WeChat, which allows users to do everything from order groceries and book yoga sessions to pay bills and talk with pals, Twitter still has a long way to go. The company already confronts substantial obstacles to its continued existence and growth due to its limited resources and fierce market competition. Since other platforms’ attempts to simply pitch users on extra commerce functions have failed to take traction, it is also unclear how much demand there is for such a super app outside of China.

According to Mike Proulx, research director and vice president at Forrester, “while Musk’s vision is to turn ‘X’ into a ‘everything app,'” doing so requires time, money, and people — three things that the firm no longer has. Proulx added that by changing Twitter’s name, Musk “will have single-handedly erased over fifteen years of a brand name that has cemented its place in our cultural lexicon,” forcing him to start from scratch at a perilous time for the company.

Getting rid of the bird

Already, the X brand has begun to dominate the social media platform.

Musk, who purchased Twitter through his firm X Corp., announced the change in a tweet on Sunday. According to reports, in 2017 Musk repurchased the X.com domain name from PayPal.

On Sunday night, the company’s new styled X logo was shown on the building’s outside. On Monday, an X had replaced the bird logo on Twitter’s homepage. Musk has even suggested to his followers that tweets be renamed “x’s.”

Linda Yaccarino, the CEO, appeared to endorse Elon Musk’s plans for the company on Sunday. In a tweet, Yaccarino described the future state of X as “unlimited interactivity,” with a focus on audio, video, messaging, payments/banking, and the creation of a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.

According to a tweet sent on Sunday by Walter Isaacson, a famed tech journalist who has been following Musk around while he writes his biography, Musk informed Isaacson that he planned to utilize Twitter to realize his original, decades-old goal for X.com. “I can’t wait to put Twitter to use to launch X.com the way it should have been launched all along.” According to the author, Musk sent Isaacson a text message at 3:30 a.m. on a morning in October 2016, just prior to his acquisition.

Musk explained the decision in a tweet on Monday, “Originally, tweets were the only form of communication on Twitter, but now users may share anything from photos to multi-hour videos.”

Musk has promised that “comprehensive communications” and the ability to manage “your entire financial world” will be added in the coming months. In this context, the Twitter moniker makes no logic.

(The rebranding also seems to be a continuation of a sort of obsession with the letter “X,” which features prominently in the names of several of Tesla’s ventures, including the Model X, SpaceX, xAI, and the given names of two of his children, X A-Xii and Exa Dark Siderael.)

Twitter has been working in the background over the past few weeks to expand into the payments industry with its new product, Twitter Payments. In the past month, the company has received money transmitter licenses in four US states, including Arizona and Michigan. Musk has already stated his intention to push for Twitter to support lengthier video posts. And he’s sought to change Twitter’s revenue model away from ads by letting people pay to get their accounts verified, which has caused some confusion but not many actual subscriptions.

However, there are obvious obstacles that Musk must overcome before Twitter can become a fully established super app. Since purchasing Twitter, Musk has angered many users with contentious policy changes and fired over 80% of its workforce. He has also driven away many of the advertisers who supported the platform. Threads, a competitor app developed by Meta, recently released to widespread acclaim but has seen its popularity wane somewhat in recent days.

Even with a 50% drop in ad revenue, Musk indicated last week that Twitter is still losing money.

Many U.S. technology platforms have failed in their attempts to imitate WeChat, even if Musk adds new features to Twitter. A analysis by Deloitte from last year predicted that Western countries would not see “a single, dominant super-app like WeChat in the near term” because the services these applications would attempt to bundle together, such as digital payments and ride hailing, already “have too many well-established players.”

After facing severe regulatory scrutiny, the social media behemoth Facebook in 2019 abandoned its plans to launch its own digital currency and payments system, which the firm claimed would make it easier to buy products online. As a result of the lackluster reception their respective purchasing capabilities received from consumers, TikTok and Instagram have reportedly reduced their plans to fully integrate e-commerce into their platforms.

And until Musk pushes out major improvements to the platform, analysts believe it’s a hazardous decision to abandon Twitter’s well-known brand.

Joshua White, an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University, was quoted as saying that “to rebrand without significantly new features seems like a desperate attempt for attention,” particularly in the wake of Meta’s debut of Threads. This is probably a mistake on par with buying Coke and rebranding it under a different name and in a different bottle.

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