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Zuckerberg's Swing and Miss

by Benjamin Corral

Threads came with a bang and has fizzled away.

Mark Zuckerberg and the Meta team launched their new platform Threads on July 5, 2023. The first hours of the platform's launch were explosive with over two million sign-ups in only the first two hours. Threads maintained the momentum over the next days, gaining ten million total sign-ups in seven hours and over 100 million sign-ups after the platform’s first five days were live. This milestone cemented Threads as the fastest-growing social media application of all time.

Threads’ massive influx of users materialized alongside a dropping of users for its largest competitor platform X, formerly known as Twitter. As stated by Ashley Capoot in her article, “Twitter traffic is ‘tanking’ as Meta’s Threads hits 100 million users,” X’s user base was down 11% compared to what it was on the same days a year ago. This massive launch was, in theory, a good omen for the platform’s future.

The app peaked at around 49 million users just a couple days after it launched. While this launch may have seemed insanely successful, the hype almost immediately died down in the following weeks. This was due to the app’s lack of features compared to its competitor X, which was quickly noticed by Thread’s users as they used the app more.

Some of these missing features include a content search function, a trending tab and a communities tab. These are some of the key components of X and were therefore expected on a Twitter-like platform. For what it was trying to be, Threads was just a subpar version of X without the daily users or key components.

For instance, Columbus teacher Mr. Busatto was on the first wave of Threads’ users but he quickly lost interest.

“I saw the hype and the amount of my friends downloading the app. But, I can honestly say, I have probably opened the app less than 10 times since I downloaded it,” he said.

This platform inferiority coupled with fewer active influencer accounts on Threads compared to Twitter and Instagram was the cause of app’s decline in popularity following its release.

This failure is another case of Meta’s lack of success in expanding its market to other online platforms. Just recently, Meta fell short of fulfilling its ambitious plans in the virtual reality marketplace with its Metaverse app and the Meta Quest console. It sought to revolutionize the medium of virtual reality, however only succeeded in putting out a platform inferior to existing ones such as Rec Room and VR Chat.

At each step, Meta has failed to insert itself into new technological markets, as longstanding traditional competitors have been able to maintain their dominant status in these markets. The failure of threads alongside previous failures shows that Meta may need to start rethinking their strategy of expansion.

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